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OPINIONS OF THE PRESS 

' Joseph Chamberlain : An Honest Biography ' 

Times : * Shows narrative power, good taste, selection, and a 
real sense of style.* 

Athenaum : * Patient research and sound judgment : a volume 
which we can praise/ 

spectator : The author ' shows himself capable of summing up 
a great career in the style of the historian.' 

Academy : ' It is from beginning to end as enthralling as any 
novel we have read.' 

Yorkshire Post : ' Such impartiality is the most piquant thing 
we have had in political memoirs for a long time.' 

Westminster Gautte : ' A thoroughly readable book which places 
an interesting life in something like the just proportion of 
its various divisions.' 

Methodist Times : * No one interested in contemporary politics 
can foil to be fascinated by the passionless picture of the 
great passion-exciter of our time.' 

Claudius Qear in British Weekly : ' It is a book so excellent and 
so sound that it must take a permanent place in the literature 
of British politics, and no Uving politician who takes his 
work in earnest can afford to neglect it.' 



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JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 



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JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

AN HONEST BIOGRAPHY 



By 
ALEXANDER MACKINTOSH 



" Of the simplett character to his sworn admirers or 
sworn enemies, one of the most complicated to those 
who axe neither'* (Lord Rosbbbry on a survey of 
Napoleon). 

^'Iftie oomMe qui est entrte dans Fansuste pMade et 
chemine avec elle sans avoir rien perda de ses attribnts 
de oom^" (BCBoutmy, in piefaoe to AchiUeViallate's 
book on Ifr. Chamberlahi). 



HODDER AND STOUGHTON 

LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO 



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First edition published in zgo6. 
Second edition zgi4' 



•. • • • 

. . . ..• 

• • • • 



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^^ n 1915 



NOTE 

SCARCELY any person could trace the life of Mr. 
Chamberlain with equal sympathy for every portion 
of his varied career. The present writer, in describmg 
the strange transformation of the Radical, the Libera- 
tionist, the Free Trader mto the tariff advocate, the friend 
of Church schools and the colleague of Conservatives, 
admires at several stages, and dares to dissent at others ; 
he seeks to present a faithful account at all points. His 
qualification is that of an observer. From the Gallery 
of the House of Commons he watched Mr. Chamberlain 
for a quarter of a century, with never-failing, never- 
slackening mterest. For the candour of his record he 
offers no apology. * It is,' as Horace Walpole said of 
Chatham, * a man I am describmg, and one whose great- 
ness will bear to have his blemishes fairly delivered to 
you — ^not from a love of censure, but of truth.' 



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PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION 

ALTHOUGH on its first appearance in 1906 the fairness of this 
biography was recognized by most of the reviewers, certain 
critics on each side were displeased by its candour. To them there was 
no riddle in Mr. Chamberlain's life, no complexity, no mixture of 
motive ; he was either saint or devil, a penitent who after sowing 
wild political acts reaped the harvest of a perfect patriotism, or a man 
of life-long selfish ambition who having failed in one course recklessly 
tried another. According to the extreme eulogists of Mr. Chamberlain 
the writer was stupid because he failed to detect in all his incon- 
sistencies 'a self-development proceeding in harmony with a par- 
ticular set of principles.' On the other hand, according to detractors, 
the narrative itsdf plainly showed that the Radical who became the 
champion of Conservatives was, as Mr. Goldwin Smith said, a political 
gambler, la3ang his stakes now on rouge, now on noir. It is, perhaps, 
a comfortable thing to be positive, and yet one is tempted to retort, 
with Cromwdl, ' Brethren, believe that it is possible you may be 
mistaken.' 

If proof of the balance maintained in the book were needed the 
writer might supply it by setting the one critic against the other. 
Those who seek a partial view of Mr. Chamberlain will find it in many 
volumes. The ' claim to continuity ' is set forth, for instance, by 
Mr. H. C. Pedder in a study published in 1902. ' When we get' he 
says, ' a clear idea as to the meaning of Mr. Chamberlain's present 
Imperialism we soon discover that it rests primarily on the develop- 
ment of those democratic principles which he advocated at the begin- 
ning of his political career.' A similarly complacent idea was ex- 
pressed by the ' Owd Poskitt ' of Mr. J. S. Fletcher when he remarked 
that there was ' noa wobblin' and ramblin' about Joaziph ' because 
Joaziph said in 1903 what he himself had been saying for years! 
The opposite view, held by men of the type of Mr. Henry Labouchere, 
has been put into pimgent language by Mr. J. M. Robertson, who writes 
that after 1887 Mr. Chamberlain's back was turned on all good ideals. 
' To the normal malice of Conservatism he brought the abnormal 

ix 



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X PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION 

malice of the renegade, and in so far as Conservatism adopted him it 
became visibly worse, substituting for the older temper of honest 
repugnance to change a new chicane of official strat^y directed by no 
higher aim than the frustration of the aims of the other side/ 

In an estimate of Mr. Chamberlain, much turns on consistency. It 
is true, as Lowell has remarked, that ' the foolish and the dead alone 
never change their opinion. ' Such a dictum, however, is not a sufficient 
guide. The circumstances must be considered. ' Alteration of opinion, ' 
said Mr. Gladstone, ' is not always to be blamed, but it is alwa}^ 
to be watched with vigilance ; always to be challenged and put upon 
its trial.' This was his own fate in the affair of Home Rule, and it 
was Sir Robert Peel's fate with r^ard to the com duty. AH political 
leaders change their opinions, but the present volume shows that the 
changes in Mr. Chamberlain's case were imusually numerous and 
violent, that they affected nearly every great secular subject discussed 
in his time, and that they occurred not only in the judgments of his 
youth, but in those of his mature and ripe manhood; he renounced, 
indeed, during the last two decades of his career, not merely his view 
of one great subject, but most of the beliefs which he had professed 
till the age of fifty. Yet the writer, instead of pronouncing a verdict 
upon his motives, submits the whole case to the jury. He tries to 
describe what Mr. Chamberlain said and did, and how he looked and 
spoke ; to describe the scenes amid which he moved and the contem- 
poraries among whom he mingled, and the impression which he pro- 
duced upon Parliament and people. 

But why ' honest,' asks a censor. * What has " honest " to do 
with biography ? ' Let Queen Katharine answer — 

After my death, I wish no other herald. 
No other speaker of my living actions. 
To keep mme honour from corruption. 
But such an honest chronicler as Griffith. 



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CONTENTS 

PAGB 

PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION ix 

NOTABLE DATES IN MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S LIFE . . . ziz 

I.— ANCESTRY AND YOUTH 
Ancestry— Schools — ^Father's Business — ^Reading — ^Helping . • . i 

n.— LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM 

Screw Mannfactaier— Debating Society — ^BCarriages — ^Business Rivals — 
Interests of Workmen — ^Personal Qimpses — Town Coondl — Civic 
Reform — ^Eariy Friends and Associates 7 

III.— RADICAL DISSENTERS 

National Education League — ^Education Act — Mr. Forster and Noncon- 
formists — Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Miall — ^Mr. Morley and Mr. Glad- 
stone—Revolt of Dissenters — ^The New Leader .... 16 



IV.— EARLY POLITICAL CAREER 

First Speech — ^Liberal Association — ^Protests against Peers — Fortnightly 
Article on ' The Liberal Party and its Leaders ' — First Programme- 
Lord John Russell's Comment — ^Democratic Leader — Candidate for 
Sheffield — ^Advanced Views — Champion of Working Men and 
Dissenters — Defeat — General Election and Mr. Forster — ^Attack on Mr. 
Gladstone — ' The Next Page ' 22 



v.— REPUBLICANISM AND ROYALTY 

Republican Sentiments — ^Reform Congress — ^A Loyal Toast and a Strange 
Speech — ^Visit of Prince and Princess of Wales to Birmingham — ' The 
Republican Mayor ' — A Courtier — The Times and Punch . . 33 

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xii CONTENTS 

VI.— RADICAL MEMBER 

PAGS 

First Election — ' Our Joseph ' — ^Attack on Disraeli — ^Apology — Strictures 
of London Press — ^Introduction to P^liament — ^Maiden Speech — 
Favourable Impression — Gothenburg S3r8tem — ^Eastern Question — 
Radicals and Leadership— -Mr. Gladstone's Visit — ' Tyranny of Turks ' 
— Action in Parliament — ' Vulgar Patriotism ' . . • 38 

VII.— CONSERVATIVE BOGEY 

' Chamberlain's Plans ' — ^The Caucus — ^Alarm of Timid Politicians — Flog- 
ging in the Army — Obstruction — ^Irish Friends — ^Attack on Lord Hart- 
ington — ^Abuse of Tories — * This Kind of Billingsgate ' — Sir William 
Harcourt's Visit . . .47 

VIII.— LIBERAL MINISTER AND * PRO-BOER ' 

liberal Cabinet— The Radicals— Sir Charles Dilke— Mr. Chamberlain's 
Appointment — Colleagues — ^The Transvaal : Annexation ; Retroces- 
sion — Spokesman for the Government 53 

IX.— IRELAND AND EGYPT 

Impression of Mr. PameU — Coercion— Mr. Morley and the Pali Mall 
GaxeUe — Kilmainham Treaty — ^Mr. Forster again — The Missing Para- 
graph — ^Tory Chaiges of Intrigue— Personal Rancour — ^Mr. Cham- 
berlain and Chief Secretaryship— Phoenix Park Murders — ^Eg^ptian 
Policy — ^The Only Jingo— A New Note 59 

X.— REFORMER AND FREE TRADER 

Board of Trade — ^Fiscal Policy — ^Trenchant Speeches — ^Bankruptcy Re- 
'form — ^Merchant Shipping Bill — * The Cherub ' — ^Hostility of Ship- 
owners and Conservatives — Offer to Resign 69 

XL— TWO DEMOCRATS 

* That Birmingham Demagogue ' — * They Toil not, neither do they Spin ' — 
Murmurs and Protests — * The Daring Duckling ' — ^The Fourth F^rty — 
Lord Randolph Churchill — ^Personal Attacks 74 

XII.— LORDS AND RIOTS 

Battle of the Franchise— Agricultural Labourers — ' Robbed of their Land ' 

— ^Mr. Chamberlain's Impatience — Controversy with Lord Salisbury — 

Broken Heads — ^Attacks on Peers — ^Ilieir Doom — ' The Cup is Neariy 

Full ' — ^Aston Park Riots— The Badger and Lord Randolph Churchill 

— Famous Encounter — Sans Rancune .... -79 



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CONTENTS xiii 

Xin.— UNAUTHORIZED PROGRAMME 

PAOB 

Radical Popularity — ^Praiae of Mr. Gladstone — Moderate Liberals — Doc- 
trine of Ransom — ^Alarm of Propertied Classes — ^Naboth's Vineyard — 
Torrents of Abuse — Complaints of Colleagues — ^Dissension in the 
Cabinet — Case of Ireland — ^Defeat of Government , , . . Sy 

XIV.— THE LIBERAL LEADERSHIP 

Who was to Lead? — ^Attacks on the Conservative 'Care-takers' — Th$ 
Radical Programme — Socialistic Sentiments — Eloquent Speeches — 
Dr. Dale's Praise — Cartoons — ^The Old Moon and the New Moon — 
Melodramatic Announcement — * Jack Cade ' — * Rip Van Winkle ' — 
* The Skeleton at the Feast ' — Gospel of Political Humanity— Con- 
servative Overtures to Lord Hartington — ^The Rivals ... 94 



XV.— HOB4E RULE 

Mr. Chamberlain's Record — ^A Home Ruler before Mr. Gladstone — ^A Poland 
— ^National Councils — ^Proposed Visit ]to Ireland — ^A Sudden Coldness — 
Mi. Gladstone and Home Rule — ^His Consultations— Indifierence to 
Bfr. Chamberlain 106 



XVI.— THE CROSS ROADS 

The Short Pailiament — ^Three Acres and a Cow — ^Liberal Government — 
Bfr. Chamberlain's Office — ^Was he disappointed ? — ^Terms of Accept- 
ance — ^An Old Friend and a New Rival — ^A Curious Interview — Home 
Rule Bill — ^Resignation 114 



XVn.— THE QUARREL 

Jealousy ? — ^Lord Randolph Churchill and ' my Friend Joe ' — Meeting with 
Lord Salisbury— Claim to Consistency — Birmingham Liberals — ^Dr. 
Dale's Testimon}^ — ^Diamond cut Diamond — National Liberal Federa- 
tion — Chamberlain Group— John Bright's Letter — ^Attack on Home 
Rule Bill — ^Radical Appeal — ^Defeat of Government — ' The Envious 
Casca' — General Election 120 



XVIII.— THE ROUND TABLE 

Conservative Government — Liberal Combatants — Lord Randolph Church- 
ill's Resignation — Mr. Chamberlain's Overtures to Liberal Leaders — 
' Extraordinary Gyrations ' — ^Round Table Conference— Letter to the 
BapHit — Ofier to Retxris— Quarrel Revived— Coerdonist Radicals- 
Liberal Union— 'A National Party' 133 



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xiv CONTENTS 

XIX.— AN INTERLUDE 

PAGB 

Mission to United States — ^Irish and Radical Strictuies — ^Rumour of a 
Title— The Private Treaty— ^Third Marriage— Ceremony in Wash- 
ington — ^Reception in Birmingham — ' Thy People shall be my People ' 142 

XX.— TRANSFORMATION 

Front Opposition Bench — ^Friendship with Lord Hartington — ^Irish Hatred 
— * Judas ! ' — Charges against Mr. Pamell — ^The Divorce Case— Mr. 
Chamberlain's New Friends — 'ESeds of the Liberal Rupture— The 
Lost Leader — ^Recrimination. 146 

XXI.— RECANTATION 

Royal Grants — Old Radicalism — Cant and Recant — * Mr. Bung ' — ^Repu- 
diation of Ransom — ^A New Reform Bill not Wanted — ^Voluntary 
Schools : a Contrast — ^Irish Land Legislation — Mr. Moriey's Censure — 
No Desire for Liberal Reunion — ^Mr. Gladstone's Sarcasm . -154 



XXII.— NEW LEADERS AND NEW CRIES 

Leadership of Liberal Unionists — Other Leaders— Attacks on the Old 
Chief — Tories the Reformers — ^Baits to Voters — ^Election of 1892 — 
Personal Impressions 163 



XXIII.— LAST DUEL WITH GLADSTONE 

Titanic Strife — The Leading Figures — ^New Home Rule Bill — ^Mr. Cham- 
berlain and Irish Members — ^His Son's Maiden Speech — ^Dramatic 
Debates — ^Encounter with Mr. Dillon — ^Personal Hostility — ' The Devil's 
Advocate ' — ' The Voice of a God '— ^The M616e in the House — Per- 
sonal Rancour— Mr. Gladstone Baffled 169 



XXIV.--OLD RADICAL AND NEW CONSERVATIVE 

Attacks on Liberal Measures — ^Employers' Liability Bill and Parish Coun- 
cils Bill — ^Plural Voting — ^Death Duties — Scottish Grand Committee . 182 



XXV,— PUBLICAN. PARSON AND PEER 

Change of Mr. Chamberlain's Attitude — ^Record on Drink Question ; Oppo- 
sition to Local Veto Bill — ^Life-long Views and New Tactics on Dis- 
establishment — Champion of the House of Lords . . .187 



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CONTENTS XV 

XXVI.— NEW MAN AND NEW IDEALS 

PAGB 

Sodal I^ogramme — ^Material Reforms— Distrust of Timid Tories — Co- 
operation of Leaders — ' Floughing the Sand ' — ^Defeat of Lord Rose- 
bery's Administration 197 

XXVII.— LORD SAUSBURY'S COLLEAGUE 

In Coalition Government — ^A Great Experiment — ^Mr. Moriey's Sigh — 
Appeal to the Country — Promise of Social Legislation — Parliament 
of 1895 — ^Its Potent Personalities 202 



XXVin.— TRANSVAAL RAID AND INQUIRY 

Dr. Jameson's Raid into tiie Transvaal — ^Mr. Chamberlain's Action — 
Protest against German Emperor's Telegram — Popularity — ^New Dip- 
lomacy — Support of the Uitlanders — ^Alarm of Peace Pstfty — ^Inquiry 
into the Raid — Complicity of the Colonial Ofi&ce Denied — ^Mysterious 
Cablegrams — ^Dissatisfaction of Radicals— Mr. Rhodes as a Bian of 
Honour — ^Moral Prestige 206 



XXIX.— THE NEW IMPERIAUST 

Passion of Empire— Mr. Chamberlain not Afraid of its Expansion — ^Inter- 
vention in Foreign AfEairs — ^Russia and 'a Long Spoon' — ^Touting 
for Allies — ^Fashoda — The French and their Manners — Suggested 
Triple AlHanoe — ^Humanitarian Action in Colonies— Relations witii 
Colonial Statesmen 2x6 



XXX.—' THE HAND OF JOAB ' 

Compromises with Conservatives--New Grant to Voluntary Schools — 
' The Hand of Joab ' in Social Legislation — Compensation for Acci- 
dents Bill — Lord Londonderry's Attack — The Real Reformers — Jack 
Cade Misunderstood — Small Houses Bill— American and French 
Impressions 222 



XXXI.— STRUGGLE WITH KRUGER 

Lord Milner's Appointment — ^IVessing for Redress of Grievances — ^Racial 
HI Feeling — * Helots ' — Bloemfontein Conference — Strange Interview 
with Leader of the Opposition — ' A Game of Bluff ' — ^Darkening Pros- 
pect — ^Picnic at Highbury — 'The Sands Running Down' — Boer 
Ultimatum — ^War — Party Recrimination — ^Mr. Chamberlain's Never 
Again — ' Mafficking ' 228 



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xvi CONTENTS 

XXXII.— THE KHAKI ELECTION 

PA.GB 

Issues of the Election in 1900 — Publication of Private Letters — A Famous 
Telegram — Mr. Chambeilain's Repudiation of Former Policy— Sir 
Anthony Absolute— Acrimony in New Parliament — ' Pio-Boer ' — 
Slanders on Mr. Chamberlain — ^A Stupid Story . . - 239 

XXXIII.— MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S ASCENDENCY 

* You Should be King ' — Quarrel with German Chancellor — ' What I have 
said, I have said ' — ^Popularity in City — Prestige in Parliament—' The 
First Gentleman in Birmingham ' — ^A Good Judge of Recantation — 
Surrender of the Boers ........ 244 

XXXrV.— A NEW CHIEF 

Cab Aoddent — ^Lord Salisbury's Resignation — ^Mr. Balfour, Prime Minister 
— ^Mr. Chamberlain Promises Assistance — ^His Own Position — ^Hint of 
Retirement— Rate Aid to Voluntary Schools — ^Mr. Chamberlain's 
Silence in the House 349 



XXXV.— THE ILLIMITABLE VELD 

' A little tSte monUe '—Visit to South Africa— Enthusiasm of British Colon- 
ists — ^Appeals to the Boers — A Banquet and an Interview at Pretoria 
— Financial Negotiations at Johannesburg — ^Promised War Contri- 
bution — ^A Weary Trek — ^Irreconcilable Boers at ^oemfontein — 
Coldness of tiie Dutch — ^Mr. Chamberlain's Assiduity at Cape Town 
— Optimism — ^Honours on Return 254 



XXXVI.— FISCAL VOLTE-FACE 

Coup de TAMIrtf— Dreams— Com Tax and the Calnnet— Announcement 
at Birmingham — Colonial Preference and Tariffs on Foreign Products 
— Sensation in Country— Mr. Chamberiain's Free Trade Reooid — 
Suggested Motives for Change 264 



XXXVIL— STORY OF OLD AGE PENSIONS 270 



XXXVIIL— SECOND RESIGNATION 

Bold Advocacy of New Policy^—* You Must Put a Tax on Food ' — Unionist 
Dissension — Cabinet Inquiry — ^Lord Goschen on ' a Gamble ' — ^New 
Leagues — Constitutional Qub Luncheon — ^Lord James Appeals to the 
Duke of Devonshire — ^Mr. Balfour's Pftmphlet— Mr. Chamberlain 
and His Adversaries Resign — ^A Strange Correspondence — The Prime 
Blinister's Policy— The Duke and Mr. Chamberlain — Second Severance 375 



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CONTENTS xvii 

XXXIX.— PILGRIMAGE OF PASSION 

PAGB 

Tariff Reform Propaganda in the Country — Old Faith and New Doctrines 
— ^Notoriety — ^Attitude of Press — Opposition of Liberals and of Union- 
ist Free Traders — Comedy of the Loaves — ^The Whole Hog — ^Irritation 
of Old Colleagues — ^The Duke of Devonshire, ' a drag on the wheel ' — 
Appointment of Tariff Reform Commission — 'Learn to think Im- 
perially' 286 



XL.— -MANCEUVRES IN PARLIAMENT 

Mr. Chamberlain as Private Member — Disclosure of ' Bluff ' Interview — 
Government Mark Time — Sir Michael Hicks-Beachr— Words and Deeds 
— ^A Taunt of Cowardice — Capture of Liberal Unionist Organisation — 
Chinese Labour — ^Licensing Bill — Pure Protection — Fiscal Twins- 
Methods of Vulgarity — Amazing Tactics — ^The Rand Bargain . 396 



XLL— DISRUPTION AND DISASTER 

Conservative Free Traders — Mr. Churchill and Lord Hugh Cecil — Anti- 
pathy for Mr. Chamberlain — ^A Private Room — ^Dedine of Mr. Bal- 
four's Charm — His View of a Pledge — ^Mr. Chamberlain Interprets the 
Oracle — ^Demands a Dissolution — Conservative Organisation Supports 
Tariff Reformr— Mr. Balfour's Appeal for Union Disregarded — ^Resig- 
nation of his Government — Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman Takes 
Office — ^Rout of Unionists 306 



XLIL— COLLEAGUES. FRIENDS AND ENEMIES 

Question of Loyalty— Mr. Gladstone — ^Duke of Devonshire — ^Lord Salis- 
bury — Sir William Harcourt— Mr. Balfour — Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman — Sir George Trevelyan — ^Enemies— Personal Dislikes — 
Friendships— Mr. Morley— Sir Charles Dilke — ^Mr. Jesse CoUings . 3x3 



XLIII.— PERSONAL LIFE 

A Soft Side— -Fatiier and Son — ^Birmingham — * Our Joseph ' — Local Ser- 
vices — Tamed Shrew — ^Home Life — ^Mrs. Chamberlain — ^Family — 
Clubs — ^Neglect of Ezerdse — ^Tastes and Hobbies — ^Religion . .321 



XLIV.— CHARACTERISTICS 

Versatility — ^Ambition — ^Intrigue — ^Business of Life — Confessions of Change 
— Administrator — ^Devotion to House of Commons — ^Fighter — ^De- 
bater — ^Platform Orator— Literary Quotations — ^Phrases — Appearance 
— Some Personal Qualities 33' 



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xviii CONTENTS 



XLV.— THE FINAL YEARS 



PAGB 



Dramatic Events — Courage after Defeat — Curious Negotiations — "Mi, Bal- 
four's Undertaking — ^Mr. Chamberlain on Old Age Pensions Again — 
Final Speeches and Vote — ^Birthday Celebrations — ^Illness — Sedusidn 
— ^Physical Disability — ^Messages of Invalid — ^Encouragement to Peers 
— ^Finance Bill — A Patiietic Spectacle : Takes the Oatii— Constitutional 
Struggle — Mr. Balfour's Resignation of Leadership-— The Two Parties — 
Final Years — ^Decision to Retire — Death 345 



XLVI.—A SUGGESTED EPITAPH 359 

CHAMBERLAINIANA : A COLLECTION OF SUPPLEMENTARY 

DETAILS 

Books and Rimphlets on Mr. Chamberlain 365 

A Study in Contradictions: Mr. Chamberlain's Opinions at DifEerent Stages 370 
' What I have said, I have said ' : The Old Radicalism of Mr. Chamber- 
lain's Speeches 393 

Imdbx 408 



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NOTABLE DATES 

IN 

MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S LIFE 

Bom July 8, 1836 

Entexs Business 1852 

Moves to Birmingham 1854 

First Marriage 1861 

Second Marriage x868 

Chairman, Executive : National Education League .... 1869 

Enters Town Council 1869 

Mayor and Chairman of School Board 1873 

Candidate lor Shefi&eld 1874 

Retires from Business 1874 

Elected for Birmmgham 1876 

Founds National Liberal Federation • 1877 

Member of Liberal Cabinet 1880 

Unautiiorized Radical Programme 1885 

Opposes Home Rule Bill 1886 

Ally of Conservative Ministers 1887 

Third Marriage 1888 

Leader of Liberal Unionists in House of Commons .... 1892 

Colonial Secretary in Unionist Government 1895 

Boer War 1899 

Advocates Tariff Reform and Resigns Ofi&ce 1903 

Illness 1906 

Death 1914 



XIX 



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ANCESTRY AND YOUTH 

THREE men of political genius played a role as conspicuous as a 
Prime Minister's on the Parliamentary stage for a number of 
years after Mr. Gladstone's final overthrow of Lord Beaconsfield. 
Their talents gave to that stage extraordinary force and interest. 
Two of them passed away prematurely in the gloom of thwarted ambi- 
tion, Mr. Pamell's public career being shattered by his private conduct 
and Lord Randolph Churchill learning the painful lesson that no man 
in this world is indispensable. Life gave a much longer and fuller 
trial to Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, who resembled the Irish leader and 
the Tory democrat in the possession of bold, disturbing qualities. 
Some of the other Parliamentarians who, in their day, filled great places 
are fading into shadows in the memory, but these three remain distinct 
and vivid among the figures that crossed Mr. Gladstone's later career, 
and the most picturesque as well as most tantalizing of the three is the 
subject of this biography. 

In birth, education and environment Mr. Chamberlain differed 
from the class which was accustomed to govern Great Britain. The 
records of our statesmen, as a rule, have begun with the houses of 
ancient families, with the University, with hunting and shooting, with 
private secretaryships at home and visits to ambassadors abroad. 
It was in the tough world of business, in the local debating society, in 
municipal service that one of the ablest, most daring, politicians who 
ever convulsed or dominated the country received his equipment for 
the front bench and Whitehall. He entered the conspicuous arena 
not to pass the time, but to satisfy a lofty ambition, to let loose a 
strong will and, perchance, to leave the world a little better than he 
found it ; and to understand the man who agitated Parliament for 
thirty years, and who after leaving one great party broke up the other, 
some knowledge is necessary of his youth and early labour. His 
crowded life was sharply divided into two stages, that of the manu- 
facturer and town councillor, and that of the parliamentary and poli- 
tical leader, but although he abandoned the minor occupations when 
he assumed the greater, his training influenced his whole career. He 

1 I 



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a. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

claimed to be and was regarded vdth pride as the business man in 
politics. 

Although efforts have been made by others to trace a long pedigree 
for Mr. Chamberlain and to show that his ancestors were in business 
in London at the time of the Great Fire, he did not claim descent 
from an ancient aristocracy. He boasted of 

No urns, no dusty monuments. 
No broken images of ancestors. 

It is from Daniel Chamberlain, malster of Lacock, in Wiltshire, who 
died in 1760, that the male lineage of the family is clearly proved, 
Daniel's son, William, the great-grandfather of the man who raised 
the name to celebrity, moved to London, and he and his descendents 
carried on business in the City as wholesale boot and shoe merchants. 
At the time of the statesman's birth — although subsequently they 
took additional premises in Wood Street — ^the family warehouse was 
where it had been for a century, in Milk Street, Cheapside. ' I was,' 
said Mr. Chamberlain, ' the fourth generation of cordwainers, who had 
practised their occupation in the same house and under the same 
name for 120 years.' The older members lived over the warehouse. 
It is recorded under the date October 5, 1769, in the vestry book of St. 
Lawrence, Jewry, that ' Mr. Chamberlain attended and proposed to 
give the rent of £42 for 21 years for the house he now lives in, situ- 
ated in Milk Street, clear of all taxes, and to lay out the sum of 
£183 los. 3i. Ordered accordingly.' The lease was renewed in 
1790 to WiUiam and Joseph Chamberlain, and at subsequent periods, 
although at increased rents, to the successive generations, the sum 
fixed finally in 1853 being £140. Bloomfield, the poet, author of 
* The Farmer's Boy,' worked as a journeyman for the first Joseph, 
who died in 1837. 

With the Cordwainers Company the family have been associated 
since they came from Wiltshire. Mr. Chamberlain mentioned with 
the pride of a business race that his great-grandfather, his great- 
uncle, his grandfather, his father and his uncle were all in turn Masters 
of the guild. He himself joined it at the age of twenty-one ; four 
brothers followed, and his son Austen was admitted in due time. 
' My family,' he said in the House of Commons, ' can boast nothing 
of distinguished birth and they have not inherited wealth or anj^hing 
of that kind. But we have a record — ^an unbroken record — of nearly 
two centuries, of unstained commercial integrity and honour.' The 
respect in which they were held is indicated by the fact that, although 
Unitarians, several of them were chosen churchwardens in their parish. 

Not only was Mr. Chamberlain proud of the commercial record of 
his family, but he was proud also of his inheritance as a dissenter. 
Through his father's mother, he was descended, as he boasted to 



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ANCESTRY AND YOUTH 3 

Welsh Nonconformists, from one of the ' ejected ministers who in the 
time of the Stuarts left home and work and profit rather than accept 
the State-made creed which it was sought to force upon them.' This 
was Richard Baxter's friend, Richard Serjeant, of Kidderminster, 
who refused to take the tests imposed by the Act of Uniformity in 
1662.* Serjeant's eldest daughter, Sarah, married Francis Witton, 
of The Lye, near Stourbridge, and had fifteen children ; and among her 
descendants are the Chamberlains and Nettlefolds. The statesman's 
grandfather was married to two sisters, Sarah Serjeant's great-grand- 
daughters, and his father was one of the o&pring of the second wife. 

From his father, who, like his grandfather, was named Joseph, 
he inherited certain notable qualities and interests. Portraits of the 
father reveal a firm mouth in a rather precise face ; and although 
he was of retiring habits, he was, according to an obituary notice, 
keenly interested in political, charitable and educational movements. 
A memorial tablet in Unity Church, Islington, bears witness that he 
was for more than fifty years ' a consistent worshipper ' there and in 
Carter Lane Chapel, and a generous supporter of their institutions. 
Mr. Chamberlain's mother, who 'thought much about duty,' was 
Caroline Harben, daughter of a provision merchant, and aunt of 
Sir Henry Harben, who at the age of eighty-two became chairman 
of the Prudential Assurance Company. Thus on both sides a future 
favourite of the landed aristocracy sprang from people in trade. 

Joseph, the statesman, was the eldest of nine children. Four 
out of his five brothers, and his three sisters lived to see him famous. 
The only brother who entered Parliament was Richard. He was in 
business as a brass-founder in Birmingham, and was twice mayor of 
the town, but it was as member for West Islington that at a transition 
period in Joseph's career he sat in the House of Conunons. Arthur 
Chamberlain was conspicuous as a licensing reformer and an opponent 
of the tariff reform propaganda, but Herbert and Walter were never 
prominently concerned in politics. 

Sprung from a race of merchants and political dissenters, the 
future autocrat of Birmingham was bom a Londoner, and from the 
point of view of smart society his existence b^^ on the wrong side 
of the Thames. A middle-class southern suburb, and not Mayfair 
nor Belgravia, was the place of his birth. ' I never know'd a respect- 
able coachman,' said the elder Mr. Weller, ' as wrote poetry, 'cept one 

> Mr. Chamberlain's expression of pride induced the descendants of Richard 
Serjeant to subscribe for a mural tablet of brass which was placed in the Memorial 
Hau, Farringdon Street, London. When Serjeant was ousted from the vicarage 
of Stone, two miles from Kidderminster, which had been formerly held by his 
father-in-law, the living went to his brother-in-law, William Spicer, and he re- 
tired to a small estate which he had bought. He had, as his biographer Bir. 
Thomas Gill records, an adequate income. 



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ANCESTRY AND YOUTH 5 

as made an affectin' copy o' verses the night afore he wos hung for a 
highway robbery ; and he wos only a Cambervell man, so even that's 
no rule.' Like Browning, who saved the poetic reputation of the 
sombre suburb, Mr. Chamberlain was only a Camberwell man. Disdain 
fot it ought to be dispelled by such celebrated names ! 

On July 8, 1836, sixteen months before the death of his grand- 
father, Joseph was bom at No. 3, Grove Hill Terrace, now 188, The 
Grove, Camberwell, a three-storeyed, semi-detached house. At the 
age of eight he was sent to a preparatory school at Crescent Place in 
the immediate neighbourhood, kept by the Misses Pace. He was, 
according to Miss Jane Stoddart's account of his early years, a shy, 
reserved boy, but he liked to have his own way, and the child was 
&ther of the man in respect that he was fond of taking those who 
submitted to him under his protection. He remained for only a few 
terms at the Camberwell school, but he never forgot it ; he visited 
the scene in the daj^ of his fame, and sent fruit and flowers to his old 
mistresses.^ In 1845 the Chamberiains moved to 25, Highbury 
Place, Islington, a district much favoured by the well-to-do City 
merchants. The Highbury Place of that period was extolled by the 
local historian on account of its beautiful view and healthy situation, 
and here the elder Chamberlains lived for many j^ars. Joseph 
attended, as a day pupil, the school conducted at 36, CsLaonhwry Square, 
by the Rev. Arthur Johnson, a clergyman of the Church of England 
who was an excellent classical scholar. And when the young boy 
was learning his lessons Sir Robert Peel was carrying the free trade 
policy which he himself was to attack nearly sixty j^ars later. At 
the age of fourteen he was sent to University Collie School which 
he attended during the sessions 1850-1 and 1851-2. He did well in 
Latin and French and still better in mathematics. It was recalled in 
later years at a dinner of Old Boys that he ^owed a remarkable all- 
round capacity. He did not, however, join in the school sports. Not 
even in youth did he care much for physical recreation. One of 
his contemporaries, Mr. J. W. Mellor, who became Chairman of Com- 
mittee of the House of Commons, remembered him as ' a very quiet 
and good little boy.' This was not the character in which he appeared 
to Mr. Mellor during the Home Rule struggle of 1893. Then the 
Chairman found him a mischievous big boy who kept the schocd of 
St. Stephen's in a state of excitement. 

Destined for a commercial career, Joseph Chamberlain was at 
the early age of sixteen taken into his father's business. He was 
initiated into the mysteries both of the workshop and of the counting 

^ The school accounts kept by the Misses Pace with the «itries of the payments 
by Mr. Chamberlain's parents have been presented to the Camberwell Central 
I^ibrary. 



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6 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

house, and, as he mentioned in much later life, he learned in a practical 
way the art of shoemaking. One who took in goods to the firm sa}^ 
he ' frequently saw the tall old gentleman (the father), with a slight 
book-keeper's stoop, go in and out of his sanctum, and Joseph, as a 
young man, do the same — ^the exact counterpart of the sire, minus 
the slight stoop.' One of his own earUest city recollections was 
dining with his father in the Cordwainers Hall, on which occasion, 
as he believed, he uttered his first public speech. Probably he saw 
the funeral of the Duke of Wellington and heard ' the noise of the 
mourning of a mighty nation ' as the warrior was laid to rest. But, 
forttmately, when he thought of the soldier's profession, he could 
not have foreseen that he himself would be responsible, as a states* 
man, for the greatest war of the reign which was then so full of promise. 

Half a century later he recalled that as a boy he was an omnivorous 
reader and that everything came well to him. The books he mentioned 
did not reveal any individual taste. They were discussed in his 
day by everybody just as in Dr. Primrose's time the fashionable 
topics were pictures, taste, Shakespeare and the musical glasses. 
Mr. Chamberlain recalled with gratitude the essays and English history 
of Macaulay, the poems of Tenns^son, and the novels of Dickens and 
Thackeray. Only the first two volumes of Macaulay's History had 
been published when he left London; The Pickwick Papers came 
out while he was in his cradle ; In Memoriam appeared anonymously 
in 1850 ; Esmond was finished about the time that he entered business. 
He sought self-improvement not only by reading but also by attending 
scientific and other lectures at the Pol5^echnic ; and it is evident 
that he was diligent from youth. Probably no man in the course 
of a long life wasted less time. 

His readiness to help and influence others was revealed while he 
was learning his father's business. He taught in the Sunday School 
connected with Carter Lane Chapel, and in those days before com- 
pulsory education had been established religious teaching of the 
young on Stmdays was accompanied by some secular instruction. 
During the greater part of Mr. Chamberlain's youth the pastor at 
Carter Lane was Dr. Joseph Hutton, father of the virile editor of 
the Spectator, Rarely does any place of worship produce in a single 
generation two such men as Joseph Chamberlain and Richard Holt 
Hutton, a statesman and a journalist unsurpassed in their time for 
force of character. The congregation to which they belonged in their 
early days removed in 1862 to Highbury and opened Unity Church 
in Upper Street. Here are two painted windows to the memory of 
•Mr. Chamberlain's grandparents besides the tablet (already referred 
to) in affectionate remembrance of his father. 



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II 

LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM 

F Mr. Chamberlain had continued to live within sound of Bow Bells 
what would have been his history? No feature of his life is- 
more easily traced than the influence upon it of Birmingham — ^the 
influence of its mimidpal experience and keen local interests, of its 
social reformers, its religious leaders and its politicians. If he had 
remained in London he would have risen to be Lord Mayor and to 
ride in the great gilt coach ; he would have entertained Princes and 
Prime Ministers and been knighted Sir Joseph. But would he have 
entered Parliament as a militant Radical ? Would he have shaken 
himself sufficiently free from Cockney habits and engagements to- 
pursue a strenuous political career? And would he have foimd a 
constituency which remained faithful and admiring through many 
/ changes and vicissitudes? 

At eighteen years of age (1854) Joseph Chamberlain left London. 
His father was induced by Mr. Nettlefold, who had married his sister, 
to put capital into the manufacture of wooden screws in order to- 
develop an important American patent for self-acting machinery 
which the family acquired, and the youth went to Birmingham to- 
take up the new enterprise along with a cousin, Joseph Nettlefold. 
From that period he threw in his lot with the pushing people of a 
district with which he was already to some extent connected by his 
descent from the Serjeants. For about twelve years Joseph Chamber- 
lain lived the ordinary life of a private citizen, devoting himself to- 
his business. At first he sat at a desk with another clerk, posting 
the ledger and doing other routine work, but after a time he shared 
a room with Mr. Nettlefold. In the course of his early years he acted 
occasionally as a traveller, opening up a business connexion, for 
instance, in Ireland. Joseph Chamberlain took control of the com- 
mercial department of the firm in which he became a principal and 
was soon its moving spirit, those connected with it testifying in after 
years that it owed very much to his capacity and energy. For a 
considerable period Nettlefold and Chamberlain had to contend 
with great difficulties. There was over-competition, with a dedining^ 
trade. By boldness and resource, however, the firm gradually secured, 
success. 



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S JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Service for the benefit of others, such as he began in London, was 
continued by Joseph Chamberlain in Birmingham. The young man 
of business found time to act as a teacher at the New Meeting House 
of the Unitarians, and subsequently in the Church of the Messiah. 
He taught history at the night school, doubting, perhaps, whether 
he would give the best of it to Whigs or to Tories ; and frequently 
in his Sunday lessons he discoursed on geography, on botany, and 
on animals and birds. One of his pupils testified in old age that 
' he taught me to read and write, and his kindly and gentle disposition 
will never be forgotten by me. I was imfortimate in my early days 
and as a poor boy came under his tuition, which enabled me to think 
and act for myself.' Another pupil recalled that on giving him Pick- 
wick Papers as a prize Mr. Chamberlain said, ' This will stand reading 
more than once.' He shared also in the Penny Readings which were 
popular in those da)^ and was President of a Mutual Improvement 
Society. 

His life was not devoid of lighter pleasures. There was a time, 
according to his own confession, when he looked upon dancing ' as 
being one of the highest enjoyments of which mortal man is capable,' 
and at that period he would have ' sacrificed the finest political speech 
ever delivered in order to escape ' to its delights. Frequently he 
took part in amateur theatrical performances, one of his favourite 
and successful characters being that of Puff in Sheridan's play, The 
Critic, and he wrote a one-act farce. Who's Who, superintending its 
production at a friend's house and himself playing one of the roles. 
Neither plaj^ nor dancing, however, distracted his mind from graver 
occupations. He was not 

A clerk foredoom'd his father's soul to cross. 
Who pens a stanza when he should engross. 

Business was never neglected by Joseph Chamberlain, junior. 

One of the greatest debaters who ever addressed the House of 
Commons acquired early practice, not at a University Union, but 
in a provincial club. He joined the Birmingham and Edgbaston 
Debating Society soon after he settled in the Midlands. Not knowing 
himself, he imagined he would never open his mouth. Silence was 
impossible in such a nature. Even on the first night he was con- 
strained to defend the memory of Oliver Cromwell, which has con- 
tinued for two centuries and a half to excite hot passions in young 
and old. The Society held its meetings for some time at the Hen and 
Chickens' Hotel in New Street, but in 1859 it removed to the Midland 
Institute. Joseph Chamberlain became a most assiduous member. 
A contemporary has recalled how with eye-glass on eye he smiled 
with amused complacency at an assailant, and an early friend who 
became a political opponent has stated that he showed ' perfect eff ron- 



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LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM 9 

tery.' On one occasion the young man came to a dead stop in a 
speech, whereupon he cabnly put his hand into his coat-tail pocket, 
pulled out his MS., looked at it, and went on again. Here was a fine 
case of effrontery ! ' It shows you/ says the political opponent, ' the 
character of the man.' Another contemporary mentions that ' there 
was always promptness and all-there-ness in his nature with a decided 
touch of self-reliance, and I may even say, audacity.' 

His first vote of censure was given in 1858, when he denounced the 
q)eeches in which John Bright, one of the members for Birmingham, 
had been expoimding pacific views of foregn policy. In a Uvely strain 
the budding Jingo charged the famous orator with several inaccuracies. 
On another occasion he maintained that so far from the aristocracy 
being responsible for all oiu* wars, as Mr. Bright had asserted, every 
war since 1688 had been demanded by the people. At the election 
of 1859, as Mr. G. M. Trevelyan records in his biography of Mr. Bright, 
'a young Radical named Joseph Chamberlain was canvassing for 
Acland in opposition to the " Quaker's " views on foreign policy.' 
In the debating society he showed the same tendency in April, i860, 
when he was in the bold minority which contended : ' That it is the 
policy and duty of England to assist, even if necessary by arms, the 
efforts of Switzerland to prevent the annexation of Savoy to France.' 
The debaters, as he recalled years afterwards, ' surveyed mankind 
from China to Peru ' ; they declared war without the slightest regard 
to the Concert of Europe, and dismissed Ministries without consulting 
the House of Commons. With equal confidence they pronoimced on 
literary questions. In January, 1861, Mr. Chamberlain took the 
aye side in controversy on the proposition : ' That the works of the 
EngUsh novelists since the days of Scott are superior to those of their 
predecessors.' He rose to be president of the Society, and in this 
capacity delivered an address in October, 1863, on 'Difference of 
Opinion.' Although usually insisting that his own opinion was right, 
he learned in those early debates to expect difference. The Society 
formed an important factor in his training, and no doubt by his own 
pugnacity he stimulated the faculties of others. Soon after his first 
marriage, however, he ceased to take a frequent part in the proceedings. 

The web of our life is of mingled yam, and Mr. Chamberlain shared 
the common lot with its mixture of weal and woe. In his domestic 
experience he had much sorrow as well as great happiness. He was 
married three times, his first and second wives living only brief periods 
after their union. In 1861, seven years after he went to Birmingham, 
the young screw-maker was married at the New Meeting House to 
Harriet Kenrick (who was the same age as himself), the daughter of 
Archibald Kenrick, hollow-ware manufacturer and borough magistrate, 
and the sister of William Kenrick who subsequently became the 



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10 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

husband of Mr. Chamberlain's own sister, Mary, and was mayor of 
Birmingham and one of its representatives in Parliament. Mrs. 
Chamberlain died in 1863 at the birth of her second child, Austen. 
For a time the family dwelt at Berrow Court, Edgbaston, the home 
of the father-in-law, where an aunt attended to the motherless 
children. 

In 1868 Mr. Chamberlain, then entering public life, was married at 
the Church of the Messiah to Florence, the daughter of Timothy Kenrick, 
of Maple Bank. His second wife was a cousin of his first, but was 
much younger, being only twenty years of age at her wedding. By her 
he had three daughters and two sons, one of whom died in infancy. He 
lived at Southboume, a large house at 35, Augustus Road, Edgbaston, 
till 1880, when he moved to Highbury, Moor-Green, a residence which 
became as familiar as Hatfield or Hawarden. Before he went there 
he suffered another severe blow by the loss of his second wife, her 
death occurring in 1875, while he was ruling Birmingham and aspiring 
to a seat in Parliament. His third marriage belongs to a quite differ- 
ent stage of his career — ^the stage in which he glittered as a political 
leader and fought with Gladstone and prevailed. 

Mr. Chamberlain's business life in Birmingham occupied twenty 
years. In that short span he acquired what men of moderate means 
call a fortune. Nettlefold & Chamberlain secured new markets, 
built up a great industry, and purchased several competing concerns, 
which they amalgamated with their own, their business being ex- 
panded until it became one of the most important in the Midlands. 
It was alleged in after years that Mr. Chamberlain secured a monopoly 
of the screw trade by the merciless crushing out of the smaller manu- 
facturers, but imputations on his conduct were attributed to political 
spite. The Rev. R. M. Grier, vicar of Rugeley, who made careful 
inquiries, testified in the Daily News that Mr. Chamberlain's firm 
' had always stood high amongst the people, and more especially the 
working men of Birmingham, for honesty and straightforward dealing, 
and all that could be said against it was that other firms had suffered 
indirectly through its success.' More precise testimony was given by 
Messrs. A. Stokes & Co. As a representative firm in the screw trade 
they wrote on November 25, 1884 : ' We unhesitatingly afl&rm that 
Mr. Chamberlain's actions were highly beneficial to those connected 
with the trade and beneficial to those whose businesses were purchased 
on such liberal terms : also to those who, like ourselves, remained in 
the trade as well as to his own firm.' His father, spending in Birming- 
ham the latter years of a long life, saw and shared the prosperity of 
the business to which he had sent the youth from London, and in 
1874, soon after his death, Joseph and a brother, Herbert, were able to 
retire. 



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LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM ii 

The social interests of the workmen employed by the firm were not 
neglected by Mr. Chamberlain. He ascertained their thoughts and 
ideas when he met them at their own debating club, and an example 
of his efforts for them is given in an incident which has been recorded. 
Mr. Solly, who had been pastor at Carter Lane, was interesting himself 
in the formation of clubs for working men in the great centres of 
population. Mr. Chamberlain called on him and said he was desirous 
of establishing a club at Small Heath for the benefit of his workmen 
and would be glad if Mr. Solly could come and help him to start it. 
' This, of course, I willingly did/ said that gentleman ; ' spoke to a 
good meeting, saw the capital club-house he had built, had most 
hospitable entertainment at his house in Edgbaston.' During Mr. 
Chamberlain's first Parliamentary contest he was charged with being a 
harsh employer, but his workpeople testified to his character and to the 
good relations existing between them, and he was supported in his 
candidature by a 4eputation of Trade Unionists as well as by the 
President of the Trades Coimcil. On retiring from business he was 
presented by the employfe of the firm with a sflver salver ' in recog- 
nition of the imiform Idndness and liberality which had distinguished 
him,' and in his acknowledgment he remarked that although some 
little differences had arisen these had been partial and temporary, and 
practically nothing had occurred diuing his connexion with them to 
interrupt their good relations. At the close of that connexion he 
treated the whole of the workpeople and their families to an excursion 
to the Crystal Palace. 

' Oh, that's Chamberlain, he looks a swell, doesn't he ! ' ejaculated 
some one at a meeting held in the Town Hall to protest against a 
railway project in the 'sixties, when he was known only to a com- 
paratively limited circle. An observer described him as ' a very 
well-dressed gentleman. He wore a very long and capacious but 
smartly-cut drab overcoat, and sported a red tie. Placing a single 
eye-glass, after the manner of a watchmaker, in his eye, he keenly 
surveyed the assembly.' In those days he wore side whiskers, low 
down on the cheek, although in later years his whole face was shaved. 
When he offered £5 towards the expenses at the meeting the mayor 
seemed not quite sure who he was till his name was mentioned, and 
then came the ejaculation quoted above. 

Another interesting glimpse of him about the same period is given 
by Judge Cond6 Williams, who was engaged on the local Conservative 
paper. ' My youthful attention,' says Mr. Williams, ' was often struck 
by the statuesque form of a young man, standing nose in the air, as if 
def3dng all comers, on the kerbstone nearly at the bottom of Bennetts 
Hill, where was situated a club at that period. He was pointed out 
to me as a Radical-RepiAlican champion, the rising hope of the modem 



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12 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Unitarian party of Birmuigham.' ^ Mr. Williams was attracted by 
his eyeglass, wondering how he kept it in his place, and still more by 
his winter coat, which reached to his boots and was made of some fur 
material. His seal-skin overcoat in later years, as a contemporary has 
recorded, caused the people at his meetings to gasp. 

Between 1867 and 1870 the manufacturer, whose business success 
was assured, began to figure as a municipal, educational and political 
reformer. In 1868, when Mr. Gladstone formed his first Government 
with Lord Hartington, as one of its members, two other men whose 
careers crossed Mr Chamberlain's — Mr. Vernon Harcourt and Mr. 
Henry Campbell (known to fame as Sir William Harcourt and Sir 
Henry Campbell-Bannerman) entered the House of Conunons. Mr. 
Morley had published his first book on Edmund Burke and had begun 
to edit the Fortnightly Review, but Mr. Arthur Balfour was still at 
Cambridge, ignorant of the man with the pale, yoimg-looking face, and 
with eyeglass adjusted ' after the manner of a watchmaker ' whose 
ambition was soaring high and who was attracting the attention of 
the people of Birmingham. At the election of the first ' household 
Parliament ' in 1868 Mr. Chamberlain became known in local political 
circles, and in November, 1869, he was chosen a member of the Town 
Council. The conunittee which promoted his candidature recom- 
mended him as ' a large ratepayer, a man of thorough business habits, 
enlarged views and marked ability, belonging indeed to precisely the 
class of burgesses most desirable on the Council.' 

A new civic spirit was at this period awakened in Birmingham. 
' Men made the discovery that perhaps a strong and able Town Council 
might do almost as much to improve the conditions of life in the 
town as Pariiament itself.' The flame of reform was lit by a remarkable 
group of Nonconformist ministers, with whom Mr. Chamberiain was 
associated in several movements, by Dr. Dale and Dr. Crosskey, by 
Charles Vince, the Baptist, and George Dawson, ' the prophet,' as 
Judge Williams writes, 'of a nondescript Nonconformist party of 
advanced thinkers who crowded his Church of the Saviour.' For 
upwards of thirty years Dawson was the most prominent preacher in 
Birmingham and one of its most active and energetic citizens. To him 
more than to any other man, Dr. Dale attributed the creation of the 
new municipal spirit. Dale himself, who in the year that the future 
statesman went to Birmingham, was settled as co-pastor with the Rev. 
J. Angell James at Carr's Lane Congregational Church, became one of 
his most intimate and most loyal friends, and late in life he wistfully 
recalled ' Joseph Chamberlain in his fresh and brilliant promise,' and 
the time when he used to have a talk with him and his friends twice or 
thrice a week. It is recorded also that Dr. Crosskey, whose words Mr. 
1 From Journalist to Judge, by F* Cond6 Williams. 



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LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM 13 

Chamberiain heard at the Church of the Messiah, pleaded with 
pathetic earnestness and with passion for the new municipal 
policy. 

While Dawson was the prophet of this movement, Dr. Dale in some 
notes in Mr. Armstrong's Life of Dr. Crosskey remarks that he had 
not the kind of faculty necessary for putting his generous faith into 
practice. ' This was largely done by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, who 
. . . began to show proof of those great powers which have since been 
recognized by the nation.' The fine spirit of the reformers is revealed 
even in the generosity with which they recognized the work of each 
other. Mr. Chamberlain himself said he was only one of a band of 
men who had laboured to make Birmingham better and healthier ; he 
had striven to bring to the homes of its vast population greater com- 
fort, to bring to its children a better education, to give to its citizens 
more facilities for innocent recreation, and above all to maintain and 
keep alive that spirit of freedom and independence for which the 
town had been long and justly distinguished. A great ideal, worthily 
reali2sed! 

A record of the statesman's share in the municipal movement has 
been left by Dr. Dale. Mr. Chamberlain, as he testifies, ' gave himself 
to the work with a contagious enthusiasm. He did not merely enter 
the Council, give a large amoimt of time and strength to its committees, 
make striking and eloquent speeches on the new municipal policy ; he 
used his social influence to add strength to the movement. He ap- 
pealed in private to men of ability who cared nothing for pubUc life, 
and he showed how much they might do for the town if they would 
go into the Council ; he insisted that what they were able to do, it was 
their duty to do. He dreamt dreams and saw visions of what Birming- 
ham might become, and resolved that he, for his part, would do his 
utmost to fulfil them.' 

Chiefly at his instigation the Liberal Association of Birmingham, 
powerful in national politics, decided to interpose in municipal elections 
and a series of contests led to a Liberal majority on the Council and Mr. 
Chamberlain's election as mayor. Many reformers objected to the 
intrusion of party politics into local affairs, but Dr. Crosskey made 
the remarkable assertion that to the adoption of the Liberal policy 
was due almost all that was most valuable in the institutions and pub lie 
life of modem Birmingham. ' It meant,' he said, ' the enjoyment by 
the great mass of the people of the blessing of a beautiful and civilized 
life.' At the same time he added his testimony to ' the power and 
administrative genius (I do not think a less word can be used) of J. 
Chamberlain.' The politician himself at a later stage of his career in 
defending this part of his work argued that the permanent distinction 
between Liberal and Conservative affects our judgment and conduct. 



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14 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

whether we are considering the removal of nuisances or the disestablish- 
ment and disendowment of the English Church. 

After being only four years on the Council, Mr. Chamberlain was, 
in November, 1873, chosen mayor, and in the two following Novembers 
he was re-elected. Thus, although he did not join in the public work 
of the town at a very early age, his promotion was rapid. Meantime, 
as we shall soon see, he was not only playing a great municipal r61e, 
but was taking a lead in other affairs of even wider interest. Under 
Mayor Chamberlain, as his political opponents admit, Birmingham 
became one of the best-governed towns in the world. He declared, 
after long experience of statesmanship, that although he had had 
' on the whole a tolerably active life,' he never laboured so hard or so 
continuously as during the three years in which he had the honour 
to be its civic head. The result of his labours is set forth in Mr. 
Bimce's History of the Corporation, ' The powerful aid of Mr. Joseph 
Chamberlain,' writes the local historian, ' and those who were glad 
to acknowledge him as their leader, . . . contributed to develop a new 
phase of mimicipal government. The quality of the Council continued 
steadily and rapidly to improve : a higher standard of public duty was 
established, capable citizens recognized the obligation of taking part 
in the government of the town and a series of important enterprises 
was entered upon, under the brilliant administration of Mr. Chamber- 
lain, resulting in the acquisition of the gas and water works, the develop- 
ment of the health department, and the institution of the improvement 
scheme." 

One of the earliest occasions on which Punch took notice of a man 
who provided the subject for many caricatures was in 1874, when he 
dined with the Lord Mayor of London at the Mansion House on Derby 
Day. The Mayor of Birmingham said in a semi-humorous vein at the 
banquet that ' in late years the taunts against corporate bodies had 
been less frequent, and even their facetious friend, Mr. Punch, had 
indulged himself less often at their expense.' The facetious friend 
replied in some verses, one of which ran thus — 

The artful Mayor of Birmingham 
May butter Punch, but Punch can say 

There never yet was epigram 
Of his thrown e'en on Mayors away. 

Attacks on the Liberal rulers of Birmingham were made by another 
journalistic observer. The Times in an article in 1875 denounced the 
shallow and barren political ideas of the Corporation, referred scorn- 
fully to the party organization, which strangled all efforts of political 
development at Birmingham that were not agreeable to the feelings of 
the majority, and said it was difficult to picture a tjnranny more odious 
or more calculated to destroy the impulses of healthy life within the 



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LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM 15 

municipality it oppressed. On the day after this attack a letter, 
protesting against some of the statements made by the great journal, 
was published, from ' J. Chamberlain, Mayor of Birmingham.' ' There 
is,' he wrote, ' no town in the kingdom in which political, educational, 
religious and municipal work is more active or more fruitful, and 
there is no coimcil in England which contains a larger proportion 
of leading citizens or can point to greater practical results tending to 
the improvement of the town and the happiness and comfort of all 
classes of the people.' 

Power in a man of active, ardent, ambitious temperament leads 
naturally to a sort of despotism. The despotism may be beneficent, 
but those whom it thwarts are inclined to resent it ; and in his days of 
dvic rule Mr. Chamberlain excited rancour by what has been described 
as his ' application of caustic and stinging (and sometimes rather 
vulgar) epithets.' A local cartoon depicted him saying to the crowd : 
' Now, me lads, let us be equal, and I will be your king,' and when he 
accepted the civic chair an opponent taunted him with being ' not 
only mayor but Town Council too.' It was his habit then as it was 
in after years — a healthy habit, as a rule — ^to magnify his ofl&ce. 
Even his friend, Mr. George Dixon, remarked with some soreness in 
1878 : ' It seems as if the terms Mr. Joseph Chamberlain and Bir- 
mingham were become synonymous.' His local experience, however, 
proved that a public man is not without honour in his own district. 
Honour was promptly shown by Birmingham to its civic reformer. The 
memorial foimtain, paid for by public subscription and inaugurated 
in 1880, proclaims ' gratitude for public services given to this town by 
Joseph Chamberlain.' He was honoured too by having his example 
foUowed by capable citizens elsewhere. He dignified the cause of gas 
and water. 



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Ill 

RADICAL DISSENTERS 

IN the revolt of the Dissenters against the Education Bill of 1870 
Mr. Chamberlain first became known beyond the Midlands, 
his earliest reputation being that of an incisive critic of Liberal leaders 
and Liberal legislation. Soon after entering the Town Coimcil of 
Birmingham the able and aspiring young man dared to raise his 
voice on public platforms in censure of Mr. Gladstone himself, and 
opened the struggle with William Edward Forster which in a later 
decade and on another stage had a dramatic development. His descent 
and training, his feelings and surroundings fitted him for the r61e that 
he imdertook. He was by tradition and instinct a Dissenter ; his 
awakening interest in public affairs led him to attach high value to 
the question of the schools ; and he was influenced also by the noble 
band of Nonconformist ministers in the Midland capital. 

By the foundation of the National Education League which sprang 
out of the Birmingham Education Society in October, 1869, that town 
became the headquarters of Radical Nonconformity at a crisis in its 
policy and history. Mr. Chamberlain, who had been among the 
founders of the local Society, was associated with Mr. Geoi|;e Dixon 
and Mr. Jesse Collings in the formation of the celebrated League ; he 
was elected chairman of the Executive Committee and gave £1,000 to 
the funds. The object of the promoters was to secure a national 
system of education, provided through local authorities, rate sup- 
ported, unsectarian, compulsory, free. This programme was regarded 
in many quarters as revolutionary and impracticable, and indeed more 
than one generation passed without its being carried out. Compul- 
sion was secured soon after the League was founded, and fees were 
dispensed with about twenty years later, but for many Parliaments 
the absence of a complete national system continued to be deplored 
and a Government of which Mr. Chamberlain was a member repudiated 
the principle for which he waged war on Mr. Forster. The League, 
however, at its initiation was full of ardour, hope and energy and it 
quickly obtained widespread support, for Sir Charles Dilke, the chair- 
man of the London branch, stated in February, 1870, that the sub- 
scriptions amounted to £54,000 and that it numbered 10,000 members. 

High were the expectations of the Nonconformists when the 
Liberal party secured a majority and Mr. Gladstone formed his 

16 



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RADICAL DISSENTERS 17 

Administration in 1868. ' Vast enthusiasm,' as Mr. John Morley 
wrote^^ ' had been shown for the principles and persons of men whose 
great cry was religious equality. The victory had at length been 
achieved, and those who had fought the battle expected to enter into 
the fruits.' Equal to the expectations was the disappointment. 
' The first great English measure which followed all this excitement and 
all this effort was a bill which Mr. Gathome Hardy might have devised, 
and which a Conservative Chamber would not have rejected.' 

No legislative project of a Liberal Government in recent times has 
caused so much regret and annoyance among a large section of their sup- 
porters as Mr. Forster's Education Bill of 1870. The volimtary system 
instead of being superseded was supplemented. As Mr. Bright, who had 
a share in the Ministerial responsibility, but was too ill to take part in 
the controversies, sorrowfully remarked when he was able to express his 
opinion, the bill ' established Boards only where the denominational 
system did not exist, whereas it should have attempted to establish 
Boards everywhere and to bring the denominational schools under 
their control.' Those who had hoped to stamp out sectarian teaching 
were exceedingly vexed when they found that the religious difficulty 
was not solved but evaded. The Boards, as the League complained, 
were to decide at their discretion upon the kind of religious instruction 
to be given in their schools ; they were enabled to grant pecuniary 
assistance to the voluntary institutions ; and the proposed conscience 
clause was inadequate. In John Stuart Mill's opinion the measure 
' did not merely halt and hang back in the path of good ; it did posi- 
tive evil — ^it introduced a new religious inequality.' It gave a fresh 
advantage to the Established Church. 

The anger of the Nonconformists was early revealed in a letter to 
Mr. Peter Rylands, a sturdy Radical member, from the Rev. G. S. 
Reaney, Warrington. Mr. Reaney described Mr. Forster as ' some- 
thing like a humbug,' and said that if the Government were to force 
the bill through by the help of the Tory party the Nonconformists 
could only bide their time, and when the next fight came, leave Glad- 
stone to his Tory friends. ' I am utterly surprised that the Cabinet 
ever imagined that the Nonconformist party would accept such a pro- 
Chiu'ch measure. If this is the Liberalism of the men for whom the 
Dissenters fought tooth and nail I think we made a terrible blimder.' • 
Such a letter as that may assist the reader to appreciate the action 
which Mr. Chamberlain took, and the feeling which raised him to 
leadership. ' Not even at the bidding of a Liberal Ministry,' declared 
his friend, Dr. Dale, ' will we consent to any proposition which, imder 
cover of an educational measure, empowers one religious dencwnin- 

* Fortnightly Revuw, 1873. 

• Correspondence and Spssehes of Peter Rylands, M.P. 



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i8 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

at ion to levy a rate for teaching its creed and maintaining its worship.' 
Equally emphatic language was used by the newspaper edited by 
Mr. Edward Miall, Mr. Forster's colleague in the representation of 
Bradford. After showing that in its practical working the bill would 
favour one predominant sect, the Nonconformist firmly said that the 
Dissenters would not consent to this. ' They would be degenerate sons 
of a high ancestry if they did.' 

Steps were promptly taken by the National Education League — 
or the Birmingham League as it was sometimes grudgingly called — 
and by other advocates of an unsectarian S5^tem to secure the post- 
ponement or amendment of the measure. A petition was presented 
by 5,173 ministers of various denominations objecting to its ob- 
noxious provisions ; and Mr. Chamberlain was the principal speaker 
at an interview which a deputation had with Mr. Gladstone. At 
their meeting in March, 1870, the Liberal chief may have noted the 
Birmingham Radical's quickness and cogency in argiunent , and no doubt 
the younger man who ' secured his earnest attention ' watched him 
warily, and perhaps a little boldly, through his eyeglass. The de- 
mand of the League was that in all existing schools receiving Govern- 
ment grants the religious education should be given either before or 
after the ordinary school duties, and that all new, rate-aided schools 
should be unsectarian. A change made in the bill increased the 
hostility of Nonconformists. As the clause enabling Boards to extend 
rate aid to voluntary schools was strongly objected to on the ground 
that it would lead to fresh sectarian rivalry and contention, the Govern- 
ment withdrew this provision but associated the schools with the 
Privy Council and increased their Parliamentary grant. By the new 
arrangement their denominational character was secured. 

Mr. Forster in carrying his Bill through Committee proved one 
of the most stubborn men who ever sat in the House of Conunons. 
' A Quaker origin,' as Mr. Morley remarks, ' is not incompatible with 
a militant spirit, and Forster was sturdy in combat. He had rather 
a full share of self-esteem, and he sometimes exhibited a want of tact 
that unluckily irritated or estranged many whom more suavity might 
have retained.' The more he was attacked the firmer he held to 
his own ground with what has been described as Olympian self-confi- 
dence. ' Night after night, with the aid of the Opposition, he defeated 
advanced Liberals and succeeded in giving a denominational character 
to his measure.' Pressure from without and pressure within failed 
to secure for the Dissenters the amendments which they desired. To 
some extent safeguards were provided by a time-table conscience 
clause and by the section associated with the name of Mr. Cowper- 
Temple, by which any catechism or formulary distinctive of any denom- 
ination was expressly excluded from rate-supported schools. These 



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RADICAL DISSENTERS 19 

concessions, however, did not remove the objections taken by Liberals. 
Strenuous resistance was offered to the twenty-fifth section, by which 
rates might be levied on the whole conmiunity to pay the fees of 
indigent children in denominational schools. Opposition to this 
provision was described by the Times as ' simply a matter of private 
pique and obstinacy ' but Nonconformists seized it as the battle- 
ground for a great principle. They refused to yield to what they 
regarded as the imposition of a new Church rate. 

There was a painful scene at the third reading of the Bill when Mr. 
Miall gave vent to the feelings of the Nonconformists. As one who 
had trusted the Government and regarded Mr. Gladstone with affec- 
tion he reproached the Ministers with having betrayed their best 
friends and disappointed the expectations with which they were 
brought into power. ' Once bit, twice shy,' he bitterly exclaimed. 
Mr. Gladstone turned on him in an angry, severe speech. If Mr. 
Miall had been ' bitten ' it was, said the irritated chief, only in con- 
sequence of expectations which he had himself chosen to entertain 
and which were not justified by the facts. ' We have been thankful 
to have the independent and honourable support of my honourable 
friend, but that support ceases to be of value when accompanied by 
reproaches such as these. I hope my honourable friend will not 
continue that support to the Government one moment longer than he 
deems it consistent with his seilse of duty and right. For God's 
sake, sir, let him withdraw it the moment he thinks it better for the 
cause which he has at heart that he should do so.' Seldom has so 
much personal emotion been displayed in a political quarrel. 

' It was a lovers' quarrel,' tenderly wrote Mr. Miadl, but others 
were moved by sterner feelings. Mr. Chamberlain used the incident 
as the starting point of a new agitation. ' For years,' he said, at 
a conference of the Liberation Society, in December, 1870, ' Non- 
conformists had been the willing servants of the Liberal party and 
now it was time they claimed their wages. The political power of the 
Dissenters would be considered a thing of the past if they permitted 
themselves to be trifled with any longer by a so-called Liberal Govern- 
ment/ One or two gentlemen at the conference rebuked Mr. Chamberlain 
for his vehemence and he was told they must be wise as well as zealous, 
but Mr. Jesse CoUings backed him up with a protest against shilly- 
shallying. There was much evidence of the fact that the relations of 
the Nonconformists to Mr. Gladstone's Ministry had undergone, as Dr. 
Dale remarked, a great and startling change. Confidence had given 
place to distrust and enthusiasm to resentment. The situation was 
described by Mr. Morley with biting words in the Fortnightly, ' Mr. 
Disraeli,' he wrote, ' had the satisfaction of dishing the Whigs who were 
his enemies. Mr. Gladstone, on the other hand, dished the Dissenters 



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20 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

who were his friends. Unfortunately, he omitted one element of 
prime importance in these rather nice transactions. He foigot to 
educate his party.' ^ As a leader of the disappointed Dissenters 
whom Mr. Gladstone ' forgot to educate,' Mr. Chamberiain denounced 
the Government on many platforms. Early in 1871, at a meeting 
addressed by the members for Birmingham, he moved a resolutidn 
thanking them ' more especially for their opposition to the sectarian 
clauses of the Education Act and to the coalition of the Ministry 
with the Conservative party by which that Act was passed through 
Parliament.' In phrases similar to those flung in a later generation 
at himself the Town Coimcillor jeered at Mr. Forster as one ' who 
was once a Radical and a Quaker and who was now a Cabinet Minister 
and a State Churchman,' and he appealed to Nonconformists to 
withhold support at elections from Liberals ' until they had learned 
the Liberal alphabet and could, spell the first words of the Liberal 
creed.* 

Resentment was increased by the administration of the Act. 
Nonconformists had hoped that the Department would work it as far 
as possible in an undenominational manner, but they complained 
that Mr. Forster was playing into the hands of the clergy, especially by 
the encouragement given to Boards, in the exercise of their discretion, 
to pay the fees of poor children in voluntary sdhools. Against this 
' subsidy to the Church ' a determined agitation was directed from 
Birmingham. A Central Nonconformist Committee, formed there, 
had connexions with many towns, and in the borough itself the ques- 
tion became a burning and testing one. At a meeting of protest the 
manufacturer, who was being gradually recognized as the leader of a 
group of very earnest men, ridiculed the idea of the poor selecting the 
schools in which they would receive the benefit of the rates. Suppose, 
he said, that in times of great distress the Guardians established soup 
kitchens and gave free tickets, and Roman Catholics asked for the 
money so that they might take it to their cathedral and have their 
prayers and their soup together. ' What would be the answer of the 
Guardians ? It would be that it was not their duty to provide Roman 
Catholic prayers.' On the first School Board in Birmingham Mr. 
Chamberlain and his friends were in a minority. They had tried to 
capture all the fifteen seats and won only six, his colleagues being 
Dale, Dawson, Vince, Dixon and Mr. J. S. Wright, the president of 
the Liberal Association. They fought strenuously and successfully 
for their principles, and in 1873, by better tactics they secured a 

* In 1873 Mr. Morley showed no more tenderness than Mr. Chamberlain in 
his dealings with Mr. Gladstone. Alluding to an argument used by the great 
leader he said : ' A poorer sophism was never coined even in that busy mint of 
logical counterfeits.' 



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RADICAL DISSENTERS 21 

majority on the second Board, of which Mr. Chamberlain was chairman. 

The quarrel over the Education Act threatened the Liberal Party 
with disruption. Dr. Guinness Rogers, an influential Nonconformist, 
who had been devoted to Mr. Gladstone and who became again an 
affectionate follower, said he would never help to retmn a Liberal 
until he had a clearer understanding with the Liberal party ; and 
this was the determination expressed by many of its best and most 
faithful friends. As Mr. Fawcett noted, the Nonconformists were 
' never gathered together in any political meeting without declaring 
that they had been betrayed.' 

This dangerous discontent was not produced by Mr. Chamberlain, 
but it found in him a specially effective and resolute exponent, and 
he distinguished himself by the sharpness of his attacks. Already his 
platform style was clear and pungent, and he showed even at this 
early stage the uncompromising methods for which he was later so 
conspicuous. By the agitation, which owed much to him, Mr. Glad- 
stone's first Government was weakened. By-elections were lost on 
account of the abstention of Nonconformists. Such misfortunes 
for the Liberal party were regarded by Mr. Chamberlain as salutary 
lessons. To the dissenters themselves he gave fresh courage and 
force ; and he secured for them greater attention and influence. He 
would have foimd a political platform, even if there had been no educa- 
tion controversy, but the cry of betrayed Nonconformity came from 
his heart. His feeling as a dissenter was the most abiding of bis 
life. 



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IV 
EARLY POLITICAL CAREER 

THE political career of Mr. Chamberlain opened after his thirtieth 
year. Most of the great players on the national stage begin 
public life at an earlier age, but for a considerable period it was neces- 
sary for the screw-maker to concentrate his energy on business ; and 
thus, except for his share in the local debating society, there is no 
evidence of his having taken part in public controversy on State 
affairs until the year of the passing of the Household Franchise Bill. 
We have seen him as a Jingo Radical in 1859 canvassing against Mr. 
Bright, with whom, when he was a very young man, he disputed on 
imperial politics at a dinner party at Mr. Geoige Dixon's. But 
although he promptly joined the Liberal Association formed in Bir- 
mingham in 1865, his first political speech from the platform was 
delivered in a church school in 1867, when he supported Mr. Dixon's 
candidature. Once he entered the new career his aggressive character 
asserted itself. At the dinner of the Edgbaston Liberal election com- 
mittee in May, 1868, he made a lively attack on the young Conservative 
party, which ' cloaked itself under the title of Constitutional.' He 
spoke several times during the general election of that year and 
thenceforward his political progress was continuous. 

Birmingham, after it gave a seat to Mr. Bright on his rejection by 
Manchester, had become ' the strategic pivot ' of the great army of 
reform ; and it fitted itself for conflict by means of the Liberal Associa- 
tion, which was reorganized on a representative basis in 1868, and 
developed into the National Federation with an ideal secretary in 
Mr. Francis Schnadhorst.^ The affairs of the Association, in which 
the Working Men's Reform League was induced to meige itself 
were managed by a central body known at first as the Committee of 
Four Hundred, later as the Committee of Six Hundred, and subse- 
quently the Two Thousand. Whigs were perturbed by the appearance 
of a popular oiganization which took the {dace of cliques and coteries 
in the selection of candidates and the local control of party affairs, 

^ Referring to the Central Nonconfonnist Committee, Dr. Crosskey notes in 
1870 : ' Went with Dale to a imall draper's shop and engaged its owner, Mr. 
Schnadhorst, for part of his time daily. This was the first introduction of Mr. 
Schnadhorst into public life.' 

22 



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EARLY POLITICAL CAREER 23 

and their fears were increased when the rapidly rising Mr. Chamberlain 
obtained influence over it. 

In 1869, the year in which he began his career as a civic reformer 
and assisted to found the Education League, he spoke at a meeting in 
the Town Hall to protest against the opposition of the House of Lords 
to the bill for the disestablishment of the Irish Church. After point- 
ing out that the majority of 114 in the Conunons represented the 
wishes of millions of people, he said in the caustic tone for which he 
was becoming noted in his town, that the Peers represented three 
things : — some of them represented the oppression of feudal lords in 
times gone by ; some represented the great wealth acquired in the 
possession of land in the vicinity of large towns, which land enriched 
its proprietors without care or labour on their part ; and lastly, they 
represented — ^and very imperfectly in many cases — ^the brains, the 
intelligence and the acquirements of ancestors long since dead who 
unfortunately had been unable to transmit to their descendants the 
talents by which they had risen. In 1871, Mr. Chamberlain figured 
^ at another demonstration against the Peers, in consequence of their 

^ hostility to the army regulation and ballot bills. Resolutions con- 

y demning the hereditary principle having been passed, he was placed 

on a committee to consider by what means they might be carried 
into effect. That, however, was not a problem to be settled by a single 
generation, and its settlement did not prove imperative ; for purchase 
in the army was abolished by royal warrant and on the ballot bill 
being sent up a second time, the Lords yielded. 

But it was not against Peers that Mr. Chamberlain's most pungent 
strictures as a young Radical were directed. He found much to 
criticise in the conduct of Mr. Gladstone's first Government. After 
they had been four or five years in office a distinct decline took place 
in their once great prestige. Several of the Ministers were personally 
unpopular, and the reforming energy of most of them seemed to be 
spent. Disraeli compared the figures on the Treasury Bench to ' a 
range of exhausted volcanoes ' ; and their eminent chief, according 
to the scoffer, ' alternated between a menace and a sigh.' They 
had exasperated a variety of conservative interests, and at the same 
time they were failing to satisfy the advanced section of their followers. 
An article on ' The Liberal Party and its Leaders ' which appeared 
in the FortnighUy Review of September, 1873, carried the name of its 
author, Mr. Chamberlain, to many persons besides those who had 
followed the controversy on the schools. Mr. Morley, the editor, had 
visited him along with Admiral Maxse, the Crimean hero and the 
friend of George Meredith who had been associated with the Birming- 
ham reformers in the Educative League. The Saturday Review found 
in the article a certain dogmatic glibness and the trite conunonplaces 



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24 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

of a smart schoolboy. It was written in a direct, confident style, 
and was enlivened by literary quotations and allusions. Seldom 
was Mr. Chamberlain throughout his career an easy, docile, contented 
Liberal. Until Mr. Gladstone went too fast for him he was usually 
urging a forward movement. In his first essay he gave faithfiil 
admonition. Leaders without a policy and statesmen without prin- 
ciples found, as he severely said, their natural results in followers with- 
out loyalty and a party without discipline. It would be no small gain 
to the country, in his opinion, if its political leaders could be convinced 
that no enthusiasm would be aroused by substituting for original 
statesmanship a policy of compromise and weakness which was reduced 
at last unsuccessfully to attempt to avoid defeat by proposing nothing 
which was worth the trouble of attack. 

A gibe was flung by the writer of the article at Mr. Gladstone. 
Four years previously he had referred to him as ' that great statesman,' 
but now he said with a sneer that * when the Prime Minister has had 
an opportunity of declaring himself on subjects of the deepest interest 
and importance he has had as little to tell as Canning's needy knife- 
grinder.' Faithful followers of the Liberal chief and even some who 
had lifted up their voices against him were shocked by this rough lan- 
guage, but Mr. Chamberlain never spared censure when he considered 
it necessary, and although the Government had a splendid legislative 
record, they fell short of the Birmingham standard. 

Thickly strewn over the records of thirty years are the political 
projects of a most fertile-minded man. His &^ programme, sketched 
at municipal ward meetings and more carefully set forth in the Fort- 
nightly, consisted of Free Church, Free Land, Free Schools and Free 
Labour. A programme of four F.'s had been suggested previously at 
Glasgow by Sir Charles Dilke, but the baronet's fourth item was Free 
Trade. Probably Mr. Chamberlain preferred Free Labour, as a bait 
for the workers. * No one of ordinary foresight and intelligence,' 
he wrote, ' will doubt that every item will be secured before twenty 
years have passed away.' After the water of double that period 
had flowed under the bridge part of the programme was still waiting 
to be carried out. The Church was not yet free ; land was only a 
little freer than in 1873 ; and although fees had been abolished the 
schools had not realized the early Radical aspiration. 

The chief feature of the Forinightly article was an attack on the 
Established Church. In 1871 Mr. Chamberlain said it had always been 
the faithful ally of the landowners in their mistaken policy of Pro- 
tection and now he wrote that ' the Church has not lost its evil habit 
of being always on the side of privilege and authority — ^always op- 
posed to popular reforms. ... Its interests are bound up with 
those of wealth and power and vested rights, while the Dissenters, 



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EARLY POLITICAL CAREER 25 

nearer in their origin and theii- circumstances to the poor, share heartily 
their hopes and possibly their prejudices.' He endeavoured to unite 
the working classes with the Nonconformists on his programme, and 
predicted that they would * claim for the nation as a whole the control 
and management of the vast funds which have been monopolised and 
misappropriated by an ecclesiastical organisation.' His immediate 
aim, at that time and ever afterwards, was ' to force our leaders to 
raise a standard which we may gladly follow or to make way for bolder 
or more active men.' * Happily, there was a very bold and active 
man in Birmingham ! 

To his first Radical programme a quaint reference was made 
in Recollections and Suggestions by Lord John Russell. With his 
motives of progress he reminded the veteran Liberal statesman of 
Tony Lumpkin in She Stoops to Conquer. Lord John copied part of 
a dialogue from the play, in which Tony and his mother, as he thought, 
represented tolerably well Mr. Chamberlain and John Bull. When 
asked to describe his journey Tony says : — 

Yon shall hear. I first took them down Featherbed Lane, where we stuck 
fast in the mud. I then rattled them crack over the stones of Up-and-Down 
HiU. I then introduced them to the gibbet on Heavy-Tvee Heath ; and from 
that with a circumbendibus, I fairly lodged them in the horse-pond at the bottom 
of the garden. 

Hastings. But no accident, I hope. 

Tony. No, no, only mother is confoundedly frightened. 

* So, in this case,' added the veteran, ' no harm, no accident has 
happened, but John Bull was confoimdedly frightened.' 

Some hope of Radicalism was revived in Mr. Chamberlain by the 
reconstruction of the Government in the autumn of 1873. Mr. Bright, 
who was then described by Mr. Morley as ' a sounder and an older 
Liberal than Mr. Gladstone,' and who had resigned on account of ill 
health at the end of 1870, left no one in doubt as to his opinion of the 
Education Act. It was, he said, the worst measure passed by any 
Liberal Government since 1832. When, therefore, he re-entered the 
Cabinet in October, 1873, Nonconformists assumed that his colleagues 
had b^un to see the error of their ways. At the meeting at which 
Mr. Bright addressed his constituents Mr. Chamberlain seconded 
a resolution welcoming that event ' as a means of reviving the en- 
thusiasm of the Liberal party, and especially of the section of it which 
has been alienated by recent legislation.' ' If,' he said, in a somewhat 
unusual strain, ' Ministerial policy had recently struck false notes and 
jarred on Liberal principles imtil these had been like sweet bells 
jingling out of time and harsh, now they looked hopefully forward, 

* ITiirty-two years later, pressing a forward policy on another par^, Mr. 
Chamberlam said : ' No army was ever led successfully to battle on the prmcipie 
that the lamest man should govern the march of me army.' 



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26 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

anticipating a master hand once more to touch the string and con- 
fident that the first strain of the old harmony would dispel the evil 
spirits of obstruction and reaction which previous discord had started 
into life.' To Mr. Forster, however, no mercy was shown. He was 
picked out for continued attack. On the eve of the general election 
the young Birmingham Radical said in biting manner : — ' The object 
of the Liberal party in England, throughout the continent of Europe and 
in America had been to wrest the education of the young out of the 
hands of the priests, to whatever denomination they might belong. 
It would be the crowning triumph of what was called Mr. Forster's 
statesmanship that he had delayed this admirable consummation for 
perhaps another generation.' 

A ' future leader of the democratic party ' was recognized in Mr. 
Chamberlain by a London weekly newspaper as early as 1872. In 
November of that year his fellow-townsman, Mr. Dixon, then one 
of the members for Birmingham, said he knew several reformers in the 
coimtry who were even better than those in the House of Conunons. 
There was, for instance, ' our own brilliant Joseph Chamberlain.' He 
was certainly thorough enough. On his first election as mayor the 
Times placed him in a special class as an ' advanced Liberal,' all 
the other civic chiefs being merely Liberal or Conservative. His 
opinions, as he noted, were apparently so exceptional that they re- 
quired a special adjective for their description and he boasted that he 
was gratified and honoured by the distinction. 

In the character of an advanced Liberal Mr. Chamberlain was 
at the end of 1873 invited to stand as a Parliamentary candidate for 
Sheffield. A local alderman had been brought out along with Mr. Mun- 
della, whose former colleague was not offering himself for re-election, 
but some members of the party were dissatisfied with the alderman 
and induced the newly chosen mayor of Birmingham to come forward. 
At a public breakfast on the first day of 1874, referring to a taimt that 
the majority of his conunittee were Dissenters and working men, 
he said he did not expect to find the nobility and gentry from the 
surrounding district thronging into the town to hear him address a 
meeting. He did not care to go into the House of Commons as the 
representative of wealth and influence ; these were already sufficiently 
represented. It was to represent the interest that he believed had 
been too long ignored that he wanted to go—' the interest of the 
poor working men and the Dissenters.' An avowal which he made on 
this occasion has served as a mark in controversy : ' I avow myself,' 
he said, ' a political Dissenter ; mine is a family of political Dissenters.' 

At the breakfast and an open-air meeting Mr. Chamberlain gave 
an exposition of views which justified The Times adjective ' advanced.' 
He exhorted Mr. Gladstone and other Liberal leaders to be more 



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EARLY POLITICAL CAREER 27 

steadfast in their course of progress, and he denounced the mockery 
and sham which were called representation, and according to which 
the voice of the majority was stifled by a mass of class interests, 
vested rights and hereditary privileges. They must also, he said, 
consider the constitution of the Second Chamber, if Second Chamber 
there was to be, ' Nothing could be more absurd than to obtain the 
opinions of thirty millions of people and then allow their deliberate 
decision to be perverted and thwarted by three or four hundred gentle- 
men who met in a gilded chamber and represented the virtues or the 
vices or the abilities of ancestors who died a very long time ago and 
who unfortimately in every case had not been able to transmit to 
their descendants the talents by which they themselves rose to place.' 
Unfolding his programme of free schools, free labour, free land and 
free church, Mr. Chamberlain argued with regard to the schools, that 
the Sate should confine itself to teaching those things upon which all 
were agreed and leave matters of religion upon which they differed to 
the churches or voluntary organizations and to the parents themselves. 
He agreed with Mr. Bright that the control of the drink traf&c should 
be taken from irresponsible magistrates and placed entirely in the 
hands of the people, who, he felt confident, would find some means to 
diminish the evil they all deplored. 

To save the party in Shefl&dd from being split into sections favour- 
ing the local alderman and the mayor of Birmingham respectively, it 
was arranged to have a test vote in Paradise Square, and this took 
place on January 29, 1874. Five days earlier Mr. Chamberlain's father 
died at his residence, Moor-Green Hall, in his seventy-eighth year. 
In the interval Parliament had been suddenly dissolved ; so that the 
Radical candidate's opportunities for making the acquaintance of the 
electors were extremely limited. 

To the people who packed Paradise Square he delivered a speech 
which frightened the moderate reformers, but he boldly said that as 
his opinions had not been assumed without reflection or consideration 
there was no likelihood that he would recant them. He expressed the 
conviction that power had been too much in the hands of the aris- 
tocracy, and that the working class had not reaped its due advantage 
from the changes which had occurred during the previous century. 
' The rich were growing richer, and the poor were growing poorer 
every day.' While terrifying the timid with his description of social 
discontent, Mr. Chamberlain indicated a remedy. ' I find it in the 
frank and lo)^ confidence of the people in popularizing our institutions. 
I find it in extending education, which is the gratest enemy of class 
distinction. I find it in removing every pernicious restriction which 
has been imposed by our ancestors for the privilege of property. I 
believe in perfect intellectual, religious and political freedom. That 



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28 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

is my creed.' It included, as shown in a later chapter, the admission 
of Ireland's claim to Home Rule ; yet advanced as it was, the creed 
was accepted in Paradise Square, and the pushing yotmg mayor 
was chosen along with Mr. Mundella to carry the Liberal colours. 

Mr. Roebuck, known as ' Tear 'Em,' who had been defeated in 
1868, came forward as an independent candidate. Although still 
calling himself a thoroughgoing Radical, he had for several years sup- 
ported the Tories. His career was to some extent a precursor of Mr. 
Chamberlain's. ' It is not I who have changed ; it is they,' said Mr. 
Roebuck, as he attacked the Liberals, just as Mr. Chamberlain spoke 
and acted in the next generation ; and like the later Tear 'Em, Mr. 
Roebuck advocated a new party which would be neither Whig nor 
Tory, but ' the party of the country itself.' 
^ y / Sir Wemyss Reid, who was editor of the Le^ds Mercury, says in his 
/j^ Memoirs that Mr. Chamberlain's speeches at Sheffield attracted some 
\i ^ M^ notice in Yorkshire, though they passed unobserved by the larger public 
\^ Atr beyond. ' Up to that moment,' he writes, ' I had only known Mr. 
y.^ ^ ^'s Chamberlain as a young Birmingham politician who was fond of saying 

Q, ^^ things both bitter and ffippant, not only about his political opponents, 

yfj/ %^^^ but about the older members of his own party.' Mr. Morley took the 

trouble to know him better, and his speeches were not unobserved by 
The Times, which drew attention to his candidature as that of * a 
prominent champion of the Birmingham Dissenters, and of advanced 
reform of all kinds.* 

Although the Midland capital regretted the departure of its capable 
citizen to seek a seat elsewhere, it sent him forth with good wishes. 
Dr. Dale wrote expressing high admiration of the spirit of fairness and 
justice and generosity which had invariably distinguished him ; and 
the Birmingham Daily Post, one of the ablest and steadiest supporters 
in the press which any politician ever had, declared that considerations 
higher than those which affected a particular locality rendered his 
presence most desirable in the House of Commons. ' No man is better 
qualified to make his way in the esteem of those who desire that Liberal 
principles shall be clearly stated and boldly maintained. To those who 
have any vestige of Toryism in them, Mr. Chamberlain is not likely to 
prove acceptable ; and this we suspect is one of the strongest reasons 
why he should be peculiarly suited to the robust Liberalism of Shef- 
field.' 

In the contest he encountered very powerful hostility. A section 
of Liberals, even in Sheffield, feared a candidate who was described 
as a revolutionist and Republican, and who demanded universal 
suffrage ; he was traduced as an atheist and infidel ; charges of harsh 
treatment of employes, made by a man who held up a screw at his 
meetings, did him harm although denied by Labour representatives 



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EARLY POLITICAL CAREER 29 

from Birmingham ; and he lost the votes of some zealous partisans of 
the alderman to whom he had been preferred. He may have suffered 
also from the sneers which, as Sir Wemyss Reid sa)^, he had flung at 
almost all the recognized leaders of Liberalism. When it was alleged 
during the contest that he was an enemy of the Prime Minister, he 
pointed to the fact that Mr. Bright, ' than whom Mr. Gladstone had 
no more loyal friend, and no more consistent adherent,' had publicly 
wished him success; but his former taunts and criticisms rose up 
against him. On the other hand, Mr. Roebuck, fighting imder the 
banner of beer and Bible , received the support of the Conservatives. 
The varied influences against Mr. Chamberlain prevailed. He was at 
the bottom of the poll, the figures being : — 

Roebuck, 14,193. 
Mundella, 12,858. 
Chamberlain, 11,053. 

The defeat of the mayor was deplored by the Birmingham Daily Post 
as ' a serious blow to the advanced Liberals and to the Nonconformists,' 
and on the other hand, it was noted with gratification by The Times 
as a significant rebuff, and it gave immense pleasure to the Sheffield 
Conservatives themselves. 

The Liberal party lost heavily in the general election. There was 
a Jonah in the Government ship. The twenty-fifth clause of the 
Education Act and Mr. Forster's obstinacy, according to Mr. Bright, 
did much to wreck the vessel. Mr. Gladstone's own reference to the 
sore subject in his address was described by the National Education 
League as a serious misapprehension of its gravity, and on the 
day of the dissolution Mr. Chamberlain, as chairman of the Executive 
Committee, signed an appeal to the electors to exert their utmost 
influence upon candidates with the view of pledging them to vote for 
the repeal of the obnoxious clause and to resist any further concessions 
to denominational interests. This attitude weakened the Liberal 
force. For the sake of the general cause the independent section rallied 
at last to the Government but, as Mr. Gladstone said, they rallied too 
late. 

They never forgave the chief offender. When he aspired to the 
leadership which Mr. Gladstone resigned, his candidature was opposed 
by the League and its numerous friends in the Liberal ranks. ' There 
is no vindictiveness,' wrote Mr. Morley, ' on the part of those who 
think Mr. Forster's attitude about the schools a reactionary mistake, 
nor any malice in their refusal to continue in membership in a party to 
which he is to dictate its poUcy.' Lord Hartington, the Whig, was 
preferred by the least Whiggish to the statesman ' who was (mce a 
Radical.' Thus retribution fell on Mr. Forster. His champions have 



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30 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

pointed out that his colleagues were equally responsible for the Edu- 
cation Act, but several of them, on obtaining their freedom from office, 
voted for the repeal of the clause to which there was the keenest ob- 
jection, whereas he himself supported it in the Tory lobby, although 
nearly three hundred candidates were pledged against it. 

On Mr. Chamberlain's return to Birmingham from his unsuccessful 
contest in Sheffield the Tottm Crier put into his mouth the words of 

A MODERN ULYSSES. 

I cannot rest from canvass — ^I have tried. ... 
Much have I seen and known — meetings of wards, « 
Mass meetings, School Boards, Councils, Caucuses — 
Myself not silent, heard among them all. . . . 
'Tis not too late to seek another seat ; 

For my purpose holds 
To rise above the Council and the Board 
And sit in Parliament before I die. 
It may be I shaU reach the Happy House 
And see the great Mundella whom I knew. 

The independence of his political career was suspended for only a 
very brief period. We found him at Sheffield calling upon Mr. Bright 
as a witness that he was no enemy of Mr. Gladstone. Before twelve 
months had passed he was again addressing his defeated leader with 
great freedom. * It may be at once admitted,' he wrote in the ForU 
nightly of October, 1874, ' that if the late Prime Minister is willing 
once more to lead the advance, no better and no more skilful general 
can be found or desired.' But he proceeded : * Much as Mr. Gladstone 
is honoured and respected, it is not for his credit or for ours that we 
should take him back as we recover a stolen watch — on the condition 
that no questions are asked.' Mr. Chamberlain went so far as to 
describe Mr. Gladstone's election address as ' the meanest public docu- 
ment that has ever, in like circiunstances, proceeded from a states- 
man of the first rank,' and to denounce his manifesto as ' simply an 
appeal to the selfishness of the middle classes.' It was for the 
Radicals and Nonconformists that he claimed to write, although most 
of them treated the Liberal chief with much less disrespect. His gibes 
were considered cruel and in bad taste. Even the Daily Telegraph 
remarked that ' when Mr. Gladstone had just fallen from power — 
when the great Liberal lion lay asleep after his defeat — ^Mr. Chamber- 
lain crept up to give a safe kick at the leader who had led the party 
in a succession of magnificent campaigns.' 

The article entitled ' The Next Page of the Liberal Programme,' 
which attracted the attention of all politicians, appeared in the same 
number of the FortnighUy as a chapter of Beauchamp's Career in which 
Mr. Chamberlain might have foimd an interesting study of the character 
of his friend, Admiral Maxse. To have had some brilliant pages from 



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EARLY POLITICAL CAREER 31 

Geoiige Meredith along with a bold political contribution from the 
rising Radical was a triumph for the editor, although in later years 
Mr. Morley may have raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders 
at the recollection of Mr. Chamberlain's readiness to dispense with the 
chief whose trusted lieutenant he himself became. The Birmingham 
championship of the Radicals was confident enough. ' Without them,' 
said the politician whose pen was almost as pimgent as his tongue, 
' it would be difficult to distinguish the party of the Moderate Tories, 
who do not practise their principles, from the party of the Moderate 
Liberals, who have no principles to practise. Political opinions on 
both sides are becoming gelatinous, and in the case of the Liberals, it is 
Radicalism which gives all the flavour.' 

Separation of Church and State was the subject which Mr. Cham- 
berlain wished to write on the Next Page. It was indeed for refusing to 
promote disestablishment that Mr. Gladstone received his warning. 
* Mr. Gladstone, it is true,' he wrote, ' conunissioned his son to say at 
Whitby that this page of Liberal history would not bear his name ; but 
the rapidly changing conditions of the problem may yet cause him to 
reconsider a decision which might place him at no distant date in opposi- 
tion to the will of a clear majority of the nation. If, however, Mr. 
Gladstone feels that he has done his work, his worst enemies wUl admit 
that he has earned his right to repose. His absence from the field may 
alter the character of the battle, but will not delay the encounter nor 
change the fortimes of the fight. Great crises do not wait for leaders, 
but create, or do without them.' 

On accoimt of the Fortnightly article scorn and abuse were poured 
on Mr. Chamberlain. By one superior critic he was compared to a 
Yankee opposition orator on the stump, and no severer censure seemed 
possible. Whigs as well as Tories shuddered at his sentiments and 
still more at the boldness of his language. What was thought of him 
on the other hand in sympathetic quarters may be gathered from a 
note in English Radical Leaders, published in 1875. ' A representative 
man, in the best sense, of the well-to-do English middle class, Mr. 
Chamberlain,' as the friendly writer recorded, ' has already achieved, 
without any fortuitous aids, a position of considerable influence. It 
is not too much to say that his opinions are largely instrumental in 
moulding the demands of advanced Radical and Liberal politicians in 
Great Britain.' 

Not yielding to censure, and not valuing praise overmuch, he con- 
tinued to advocate the first of his progranunes. He kept disestablish- 
ment in the forefront, and was regarded with increasing favour by 
Nonconformists. Presiding on May 3, 1876, at the annual meeting 
of the Liberation Society held at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, he 
produced a great impression by his zeal ; and he was equally effective 



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32 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

in exciting enthusiasm at similar gatherings elsewhere. Temperance 
was another of his lofty causes. In an article he pointed out ' The 
Right Method with the Publicans/ and in a second he advocated Muni- 
cipal Public Houses. Mr. Robert Lowe had said that there were 
causes at work which would gradually and ultimately eradicate the 
evils of intemperance. In old age Mr. Chamberlain himself spoke in 
the same strain. At the time of his early programme, however, he 
was less patient. ' No doubt,' he scornfully wrote, ' there are causes 
at work which tend to the ultimate eradication of everything, but 
why must the present generation go on wearing the devil's chain ? 
It is no comfort to families whose happiness has been wrecked, and 
their homes made desolate by the drunkenness of some relative, to hear 
that in a century or two a millennium may be expected in which the 
evil of drinking will disappear.' 



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REPUBLICANISM AND ROYALTY 

THE taint of Republicanism adhered for a long time to Mr. Cham- 
berlain. Perhaps he was not anxious at first to get rid of 
it. On the other hand, his language was sympathetic rather than 
definite. On the fall of the French Empire, in 1870, he attended a 
meeting of congratulation held in Birmingham and in supporting a 
resolution, ' That we rejoice that the irrepressible instinct of the 
French people for the divine right of self-government has re-estab- 
lished their Republic after a century of sacrifices for fireedom/ he 
said he did not feel any great horror at the idea of the possible estab- 
lishment of a RepubUc in our own coimtry. He was quite certain 
that sooner or later it would come ! For an address by Charles 
Bradlaugh on ' The Impeachment of the House of Brunswick,' 
the use of the Town Hall was requested by a Republican conunittee, 
and the memorial came before the Town Council on October 10, 1871. 
The mayor moved the rejection of the apphcation on the ground 
that the lecture was an attack on the reigning House, but this idea 
failed to frighten Councillor Chamberlain. He supported the petition, 
remarking that he did not think there was anything stronger against 
the House of Brunswick in Bradlaugh's impeachment than in the 
lecture on ' The Four Georges ' which Thackeray had given in 
Birmingham. 

Controversy took place in later years as to the character in which 
he presided at the Electoral Reform Congress in St. James's HaU, 
London, on November 12, 1872. When he wished to minimize his 
connexion with Republicanism he explained that he attended on 
behalf of the Birmingham Liberal Association, and that the proposal 
of the Republican Club of his borough that he should represent it was 
made without his knowledge. At the time, however, he appeared 
to acquiesce in a proposal which in itself indicated the impression 
produced by his speeches and sentiments. He announced at the 
Congress that he had been delegated to attend by the Liberal Associa- 
tion and had been nominated as the representative of several Non- 
conformist Conunittees, 'and in conunon with Mr. Cattell as the 
representative of the Birmingham Republican Club.' 

A great sensation wa» caused by a speech which Councillor Cham- 

33 ^ 



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34 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

berlain delivered, in proposing the health of Queen Victoria, at a 
dinner which he gave on December 5, 1872, to the volunteers who 
had worked for him in a municipal contest. The views which he 
then expressed were not those of a scatterbrained youth. He was 
thirty-six, and a leader in dvic, educational and pohtical reform. 
Among the many bad qualities which his opponents discovered in 
him the one, he said, which perhaps exercised them most was his 
Republicanism. He had not introduced that matter into the con- 
test, but when he was attacked he was bound as an honest man to 
avow the opinions which he entertained and to defend them as he best 
might. Thus he set them forth — 

He was one of those who held — and he was bound to say he thought there 
were very few intelligent and educated men who did not hold — the opinion that 
the best form of government for a free and enlightened people was that of a 
Republic, and, moreover, that that was the form of government to which the 
nations of Europe were surely and not very slowly tending. At the same time 
he was not at all prepared to enter into an agitation in order to upset the existing 
order of things, in order to destroy the Monarchy and to change the name of the 
titular ruler of this country. He thought that was a matter of not the slightest 
importance. What was of real importance was that Republican opinions — 
what he beUeved to be the true Republican spirit — should be spread among the 
people. The idea that, to his mind, underlay Republicanism, was this : that in 
all cases merit should have its fair chance, and that it should not be handicapped 
in the race, that it should not be preceded by the accident of birth and of privi- 
lege, that aU special privileges that interfered with the happiness of the people 
should be swept away, that men should have equal rights before the law and equal 
opportunities of serving their country, and lastly that the principle of fraternity 
should prevail and that every effort should be made to promote, as far as possible, 
friendly feelings among the various classes of the country. If when these objects 
were attained the majority of his countrymen were still anxious to have what Mr. 
Frederic Harrison had very wittily called a hereditary grand master of the cere- 
monies he did not think there would be any need to quarrel with their taste or 
to dispute the decision at which they had arrived.^ 

In reply to a ' heckler ' at Sheffield, when offering himself as a 
candidate in January, 1874, Mr. Chamberlain spoke guardedly. 
He said : ' As to the Queen, he, hke every wise citizen, had the highest 
personal esteem and respect for her. He did not think the question 
of RepubUcan institutions in England was at present a practical 
question at all. As a matter of theory the best form of government 
for a free people was a popular form in which merit was alwa}^ pre* 
ferred to both.' He continued, however, to be described in the press 
as a RepubUcan. 

***** 

On account of Mr. Chamberlain's daring opinions and aggressive 
tongue a very lively interest was taken in the visit of the Prince and 
Princess of Wales to open the new municipal buildings in Birmingham 

^ Birmingham Daily Post. 



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REPUBLICANISM AND ROYALTY 35 

daring his mayoralty in November, 1874. The newspapers reveal the 
amusement Math which the piquant affair was watched. The Mayor's 
bold attacks on the Liberal leaders, his eloquent championship of 
the Dissenters, his speeches at Sheffield on social discontent, his 
attacks on privilege and his Republican s}mipathies had drawn general 
attention to the man who was to receive their royal highnesses, and 
London turned upon him a quizzing gaze. He was sneeringiy re- 
minded that it had been written of him that he had already been 
favoured with an interview by the Prince and had endeavoured to 
explain to him, with only partial success, the advantage of surrender- 
ing to the people his rights of succession ! In a mocking vein The 
Times remarked with reference to Mr. Chamberlain's introduction 
to the ro3^ visitors, that the curiosity of the polite crowd was as 
great as it was when Mayor P6tion was presented to Marie Antoinette. 
This was the heavy, virtuous Parisian who in a historic procession 
to Paris, ' at his luncheon, comfortably filled his wine-glass in the 
Royal berline, flung out his chicken-bones past the nose of Royalty 
itsdf , and on the King's saying, France cannot be a Republic, answered 
No, it is not ripe yet.' The Mayor of Birmingham might have been 
polite enough to give a similar response if the Prince of Wales had 
made the same remark, but his critics promptly learned that he 
did not belong to the order of men who throw chicken-bones past the 
rojral face. His conduct on the occasion of the royal visit was one of 
the earliest surprises in a life of surprises. 

At the borough boundary he received the great personages who 
had driven from Packington Hall. In the first carriage with the 
Prince and Princess and their host (Lord Aylesford) sat a statesman, 
' the serious son of a serious duke,' whose career crossed and recrossed 
Mr. Chamberlain's. Did any presage of conflict flash through his 
sharp and busy brain when, after he had been presented by Lord 
Aylesford, he raised his eyeglass and looked at Lord Hartington ? 
(> was his mind preoccupied by the cares of the courtier ? Fastidious 
critics discerned no embarrassment in the mayor's behaviour, and 
as each hour of the royal visit passed their wonder and admiration 
grew. Here was no rude demagogue — no man of ordinary talents. 
His speech at lunch, in giving the toast of the Prince and Princess, 
produced a most agreeable impression. ' I do not doubt,' he said, 
* that the result of their visit, tmder the circumstances, is to draw 
closer the ties between the throne and the people, and to increase 
the popularity already enjoyed by the members of the royal house — 
a popularity based quite as much on their hearty S}mipathy and frank 
appreciation of the wishes of the nation as on their high position and 
exalted rank.' Their royal highnesses were delighted with their 
visit ; and thus Mr. Chamberlain, while his Parliamentary career was 



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36 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

approaching, won the friendship of his future king and queen Mdthout 
forfeiting the respect of political friends or municipal colleagues. 

Testimony was borne in various quarters to the correctness of 
his conduct. His own fellow-townsmen were gratified and at the 
same time amused by the ease with which, as an evening newspaper 
recorded, he showed himself a perfect courtier all through the pro- 
ceedings ; and some of the spectators who had come to sneer went 
away with praise on their tongues and their pens, declaring that he 
had said the right thing and behaved as a gentleman. A reporter 
who had chronicled many mayors' speeches, dehvered before royal 
personages, doubted if he had ever heard any which were couched in 
such a tone at once of courteous homage, manly independence, and 
gentlemanly feeling, which were so perfectly becoming and so much 
the right thing in every way as those of Mr. Chamberlain ; and with 
all its editorial authority The Times, which had shuddered at the 
mayor's politics, generously admitted that his reception of the Prince 
and Princess was ' simple, dignified, and becoming, and the speeches 
in which he proposed the health of Her Majesty and of their Ro5ral 
Highnesses were as distinguished for their loyal courtesy as by their 
self-respect.' 

Punch depicted Mr. Chamberlain as ' a Brummagem Lion,' kneeling 
before the Princess, submissively laying his claws on her lap and con- 
cealing the Fortnightly Review behind his back, while the Prince, with 
hand on mouth, represses a smile. The cartoon was accompanied by 
the following amusing verses which enable us to realize the feeling of 
the time — 

A BRUMMAGEM LION 

(Reproduced by permission of the proprietors of * Punch *) 

That this Brummagem Republican Mayor ironical fate should tether. 

With this pleasant Prince and Princess of Wales in hardware handcufb together ; 

That this Chamberlain must hide his red cap — not to speak, as yet, of destroying 

it— 
And bow his bow, and speak his address, and feel how his Council's enjoying it ! 

But Punch gives credit where credit is due, and if Chamberlain have put his foot 

in it, 
And set up his Tree of Liberty, without first making sure there's a root in it, 
And talked a great deal of brag and bounce and nonsense, and written more. 
Punch owns that Birmingham's banner, in this fix, he gallantly bore. 

Like a gentleman he has comported himself in this glare of the Princely sun ; 
I las said just what he ought to have said, and done what he ought to have done ; 
Has put his red cap in his pocket, and sat on his Fortnightly article. 
And of Red Republican claws or teeth displayed not so much as a particle. 

Nay, this Brummagen Republican Lion for the nonce has ta'en to roar him 
As gently as any sucking dove, or the gentle Princess before him : 
Has laid his awful claws in her lap, and meekly begged her to clip 'em — 
And has promised, if smaller lions dared roar, to take and whip 'em — 



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REPUBLICANISM AND ROYALTY 37 

In short, has behaved himself less like a Republican than a Chamberlain 
Who has worn a gold key all his life, and in marichaU-poytrdeT and amber lain ; 
There's only one little query, which e'en a kind Punch can't smother — 
On which side is the electro-plate — ^the * advanced * face, or the other ? 

A caricature called A Vision of the Future, which amused the 
people of Birmingham, depicted the arch-Radical on his knees re- 
ceiving the honour of knighthood. If he had been an ordinary man 
this would have been his gratifying reward. The gift of prophecy, 
withheld from the artist, was granted to Mr. Newdegate, a stiff Midland 
Tory who was impressed by the manner in which Mr. Chamberlain 
played the host and the infinite grace with which he conducted the 
Princess to the luncheon table, and who was reported by Mr. T. H. S. 
Escott (Mr. Morley's successor as editor of the Fortnightly) to have 
said : ' It was the prettiest sight I ever saw in my life : Chamberlain 
I always suspected to be a bom courtier and squire of dames — ^by 
the time he is sixty he will be working together with Robert Cecil.' 
A prediction that was fulfilled ! 

Soon after the royal visit, with its glimpse of the complex character 
of the Repubhcan mayor, he was plunged into deep grief. The 
death of his second wife in February, 1875, was a terrible stroke to 
a man who, with increasing political and municipal duties, relied 
greatly on the aid and solace of home hfe. This aspect of his loss 
was alluded to by his friend, Mr. C. E. Mathews, at a public meeting. 
The blow which he had sustained ' could only be guessed at by those 
who had watched in the midst of a laborious and successful public 
career how closely he had clung to domestic ties.' Condolence was 
expressed by the Town Council, one alderman remarking that the 
sad event had fallen on the whole town as a bereavement is seldom 
felt out of a particular family, and another stating that those who 
were present at the funeral scarcely ever witnessed an event so solemn 
and so touching. Mr. Chamberlain tendered his resignation as mayor, 
but the Council would not accept it, and although he suffered another 
severe affliction by the death of his mother in the following August, 
the call to public duty was too urgent and imperious to be ignored. 
He was, indeed, at the gateway of the avenue which led to fame. 



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VI 

RADICAL MEMBER 

* A T the age of forty,' said the Birmingham Daily Post, in a review 
Jt\ of Mr. Chamberlain's career at a much later period, ' he had 
already achieved sufficient to satisfy the ambitions of most men. 
Combining astonishing energy with a remarkable capacity for leader- 
ship, he had done an enormous amount of social and philanthropic 
work before he entered the City Council, and then in the short space 
of a three years' mayoralty he carried three schemes, each of which 
would have appeared too colossal for attack to a man with an ordinary 
outlook on life.' It was after accomplishing all this that he entered 
the arena where he won world-wide celebrity. 

A seat in Parliament was found for Mr. Chamberiain as a repre- 
sentative of Birmingham on the retirement of Mr. Dixon in June, 
1876. No doubt or hesitation was felt by the local Liberals with 
regard to the man they should select. As soon as the vacancy was 
announced the new candidate was chosen with enthusiasm by the 
Committee of the Four Hundred. The president of the Association, 
giving an assurance which might have been reserved for a quarter of 
a century, stated that although he had passed the borderland between 
youth and middle age he had still all his intellectual vigour and all 
his physical powers in full activity. Popular faith in Mr. Chamber- 
lain was quaintly expressed at the nomination meeting by a work- 
ing man who said : ' Joseph, thou hast been faithful over the things 
in our borough — over the things we have committed to thy trust 
thou hast been faithful ; we will make thee a ruler of the nation.' 
In the same phraseology another elector, at a public meeting held 
after the new member's unopposed return, declared : " We can trust 
our Joseph to go down into Egypt where, fearless of the power of 
Pharaoh and the seductions of Potiphar's wife, he will do his duty to 
his constituents/ 

Tory newspapers sneered at ' our Joseph,' but the term was one 
of endearment in Birmingham, and as the local Liberal organ said : 
' We give the nation of our best, even though our own interests may 
suffer by the gift.' Mr. Chamberlain had retired from business two 
years previously to devote himself to the affairs of his fellow-dtizens, 
and now — ^while he retained his connection with the Council as an 

38 



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RADICAL MEMBER 39 

alderman — he resigned the mayoralty and the chairmanship of the 
School Board in order that he might give his whole time to politics 
and the public interest for the remainder of his life. It was said that 
Mr. Chamberlain went to Parliament as the representative of Dr. 
Dale. ' Well/ he retorted, ' if that be so there is not a representative 
in the House of Conmions who will have a better, wiser or nobler con- 
stituency.' His credentials were smnmed up by the Daily Post in a 
passage which, although eulogistic, may be read without much allow- 
ance being required for local partiality. ' The education campaign, 
in which as chairman of the Conmiittee of the League, and as one of 
its founders, he took so large a share, made him widely known in all 
the great centres of population in the country. His gallant fight as 
one of the Liberal canc^dates for Sheffield, though unsuccessful in its 
immediate purpose, gave him reputation as an earnest and advanced 
Liberal politician, and established his rank as a speaker of no ordinary 
range and power. His rare combination of literary skill with ora- 
torical faculty has made him known as a vigorous and attractive 
political writer, and as a thinker whose opinions and conclusions, how- 
ever much in some quarters they may challenge dissent, must at least 
command examination.' 

On the threshold of his Parliamentary career Mr. Chamberlain 
gave offence to a great political party. Within a few hours of 
his selection as candidate, he made at a School Board meeting an 
attack on Disraeli which friends found ' imjustifiable and most re- 
grettable.' Criticising Lord Sandon's Education Bill he imputed to 
the Conservative Government deliberate dishonesty, and described 
Mr. Disraeli as ' a man who never told the truth except by accident, 
a man who went down to the House of Commons and flung at the 
British Parliament the first lie that entered his head ... a man who 
on fifty other occasions had deliberately played with the House of 
Conunons and exhibited his cynical contempt for the honour of Eng- 
land.' For this language he was denounced in the press throughout 
the country. The Daily Telegraph said it looked as if he were pos- 
sessed of what horse-dealers call * an ugly temper ' ; the Sportsman 
advised him to simulate the language of a gentleman ; the Globe 
scolded him for Billingsgate, a free use of calxmmy, threadbare fustian, 
intemperate rhetoric. 

A prompt apology was offered by the offender. In a published 
letter he expressed regret that he should have used expressions which 
conveyed, or could be construed into an imputation on the personal 
character of members of the Government. ' I hope,' he wrote, ' it 
may be accepted as an extenuation of an unwitting offence, that I 
have been greatly over-worked lately, and that I was speaking with- 
out preparation under considerable mental strain, and in face of 



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40 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

somewhat irritating interruptions.' The apology was not considered 
satisfactory by all his opponents. A member of the School Board, 
den5dng provocation, stated that he spoke with the aid of notes which 
he had made during the debate, and the local Tory organ, the Daily 
Gazette, took the opportunity to expatiate on his tongue and temper. 
The Saturday Review sneered at him as a fair example of the Mechanics 
Institute mind and strongly protested against a man capable of such 
gross and vulgar abuse being sent to Parliament, while a speaker at a 
meeting in his own town said the sooner he was sent to St. Stephen's 
to learn manners the better. 

The Liberal leaders were not forgotten by the daring man who 
caused so much annoyance in the Conservative camp. Instead of 
showing meekness and docility when about to sit near them, he said 
in his first speech to his constituents : ' We hear a great deal about 
the loyalty which the rank and file owe to the chiefs of the party, 
but may we not fairly ask whether some loyalty is not due from the 
leaders of the party to the principles by which the party is governed ? ' 
In this challenging mood, with the reputation of a good platform 
speaker, of a successful man of business, of a great municipal admin- 
istrator and of an advanced and rather dangerous Radical and political 
Dissenter, he went from Birmingham to Westminster. 

Disraeli was within a few weeks of the dgse of his career in the 
House of Conunons when Mr. Chamberlain entered it. There, the 
newcomer found also the gentle-mannered, fair-minded Sir Stafford 
Northcote ; Mr. Gathome Hardy, a fluent orator and a favourite of 
the country squires ; Mr. Assheton Cross, an unomamental Home 
Secretary ; Lord John Manners, the champion of the old nobility ; 
and the hard-headed, hard-hitting, dogged Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, 
with whom the pushful mayor was to be closely associated ten years 
later. On the front Opposition bench were statesmen whom Mr. 
Chamberlain had coimselled and rebuked. Lord Hartington had 
already been the subject of his strictures, Mr. Goschen had shared the 
sneers aimed at ' moderate Liberals,' and Mr. Forster had no reason 
to be grateful for the election of the Leaguer who did so much to dis- 
credit his education policy. Mr. Bright took comparatively little 
part in Parliamentary controversy, and Mr. Gladstone, to whom in 
retirement the hearts of Liberals fondly turned, only flashed on the 
familiar scene at incalculable intervals. On the Conservative side 
sat a tall, thin, elegant yoimg man, who was known chiefly as the 
nephew of the Marquis of Salisbury, and who was pondering A Defence 
of Philosophic Doubt. An alliance between Arthur Balfour and 
Joseph Chamberlain in the government of the country would have 
seemed then more imlikely than ofl&cial co-operation between Mr, 
Gladstone and Mr. Disraeli. 



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RADICAL MEMBER 41 

Introduced by John Bright and Joseph Cowen, the new member 
took his seat on July 13. While he was waiting on a cross-bench . 
bdow the bar he did what others did ; he put on his hat. This pro- /C 
ceeding on the part of a man who had not been introduced was a 
dreadful breach of Parliamentary etiquette. Conventional members 
saw in it a portent. The doorkeeper pointed out to the newcomer \ y 
his error, and after a discreet interval he uncovered his head, where- X 
upon the sensitive champions of order breathed again. His recep- 
tion was thus described by the unsympathetic Birmingham Gazette ; 
' A slight buzz of expectation passed through the House. . . . The 
general feeling seemed to be one of curiosity rather than enthusiasm. 
On the Conservative side of the House there was silence. Above the 
gangway on the Liberal side there was silence also. Below the gang- 
way on the Opposition benches there was a slight cheer ; and that 
was all.' Mr. Chamberlain took his seat among the independent 
Liberals below the gangway. There he found a member as remark- 
able as himself — Charles Stewart Pamell, who had been elected for 
Meath in April, 1875. He became intimate with the famous Irish- 
man, and as he told the House of Conmions, after their estrangement, 
' we did not look at questions altogether from the same point of 
view. Nevertheless we found that at times we could act with each 
other, and our intercovu'se was close and frank.' 

Soon after his election, a friend came to the confident Radical 
and said : ' Would you mind, as I am an older member, my giving 
you a little bit of advice ? ' Of course he made a polite response and 
the friend went on : ' Well, you know, you have come into the House 
of Commons rather late, and you have come with some sort of repu- 
tation from outside. The House of Conmfions does not like outside 
reputations ; it is accustomed to make and unmake its own, and I 
think that if you would not mind — if you could contrive to break 
down a little, I think the House would take it as a compliment, and 
you would be all the better for it.' To break down was more than 
Mr. Chamberlain could contrive. Out of respect for the assembly 
he was ' so proud to enter ' he had intended to remain silent for the 
few weeks that remained of his first session, but even this reticence 
was impossible. 

His voice was heard for the first time in the House on August 4, 
when Lord Sandon's Education Bill drew him into debate in defence 
of the Birmingham School Board. He rose from the third bench 
below the Opposition gangway — a bench from which in later years 
many a taunt was flung at him by Mr. Healy, Mr. Dillon and Mr. T. P. 
O'Connor. The Prime Minister, whom he had attacked a few weeks 
previously in Birmingham, sauntered in, and raising his eyeglass 
between thimib and forefinger, scrutinized the new member. Prob- 



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42 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

ably Mr. Disraeli was less surprised than some of his friends who had 
queer notions of Radical mayors when he watched the smartly dressed 
man with youthful-looking face and slim figure and heard the clear, 
penetrating, subdued voice. It was appropriate that Mr. Chamber- 
lain should make his maiden speech on the subject which had given 
him notoriety. His experience, he said, had led him to the conclusion 
that the religious diflficulty was not a parents* difl&culty and that in 
fact very little would be heard of it if the priests and parsons would 
stand aside. He advocated the separation of religious and secular 
education, and said it was believed that by throwing religious instruc- 
tion on voluntary effort they would secure much more satisfactory 
results. In this strain he spoke for about twenty minutes and he sat 
down amid the hearty cheering of the Liberals. 

According to a correspondent who wrote with a friendly but not 
uncritical pen, ' he addressed the House with the greatest fluency and 
self-possession ; his elocution was good and free from provincialisms ; 
his manner was persuasive and his voice agreeable ; and what was 
especially remarkable was that he struck at once, and as to the manner 
bom, the conversational key and tone of argument which characterizes 
the present House of Conmions.' Compliments flowed from several 
speakers. Colonel Nolan, an Irish Catholic, whose point of view was 
far from Mr. Chamberlain's, described his speech as able and temperate, 
and Radical Mr. Hopwood remarked that it must have been listened 
to with attention and pleasure by all who heard it. Praise came even 
to the lips of Mr. Forster, who was unaccustomed to the paying of 
soft compliments. More than any other member he might have 
grudged praise to the conspicuous assailant of his education com- 
promise, but generosity was not among the qualities which this rugged 
man lacked, and he congratulated his antagonist on ' the remarkable 
ability with which he had realized the expectations entertained by 
many of his colleagues.' 

A C3aiic hastily likened Mr. Chamberlain in his spruceness to a 
v^ladies' doctor, and he was evidently regarded as the mildest-mannered 
K Radical that ever cut a political throat . Even that rigid, old-fashioned 
Tory, Sir Walter Barttelot, praised him when he delivered his second 
speech— on the Prisons Bill— on February 15, 1877. With kindly 
condescension Sir Walter encouraged him by saying his views were 
expressed ' with a convincing calnmess which was so acceptable in 
that House.' 

His first eleborate speech in Parliament was on the Gothenburg 
licensing system. He spent part of the recess in 1876 along with 
Mr. Jesse CoUings, in a visit to Sweden and Lapland and an inquiry 
into the working of the municipal control of the liquor traffic. In 
January, 1877, he induced the Town Council of Birmingham to apply 



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RADICAL MEMBER 43 

to Parliament for powers to adopt a similar system ; and in the House 
of Conmions on March 13 he proposed to enable municipalities to 
acquire the existing interests in the retail of intoxicating drinks, and, 
if they saw fit, to carry on the trade for the convenience of the in- 
habitants. He remarked that moral suasion had been practised for 
more than thirty years, and had never reduced the returns, nor 
diminished the gains of a single person engaged in the trade, and 
he feared that the evidence would not warrant them in believing that 
any better results would follow the progress of education than had 
followed the exercise of moral suasion. On the other hand he felt 
certain that if the conmiunity were entrusted with the control of the 
drink shops, one half of them would, as a matter of course, be imme- 
diately abandoned, and the remainder be placed under strict control. 
He spoke of ' the baneful influence of a gigantic, vested interest, whose 
tyranny and whose insolence must be as repugnant to those who could 
profit by it as it was to those who were suffering from its oppression.' 
The favourable impression produced by his earUer efforts was 
confirmed by his comparatively long speech on this occasion. He 
delivered it from Mr. Bright 's old place at the upper end of the second 
bench below the gangway. ' His voice,' a critic wrote, ' is perfect ; 
his articulation distinct. His action, too, is good ; he knows what to 
do with his hands.' Fault was found only with his use of an eyeglass, 
but to this the House became accustomed. His lucidity was admired 
by all Usteners, and there was again an air of wonder at the temperate 
tone of one who, as Sir Wlfrid Lawson remarked, had been looked 
upon as a rather dangerous and revolutionary character. Notwith- 
standing his lucidity and moderation, his resolution was rejected by 

103 votes to 51, the minority consisting mainly of Radicals and Irish. 
« « « « * 

The complaint of imperialists that they hear too much of domestic 
policy and too little of foreign affairs did not apply to the Disraeli 
regime. When Mr. Chamberlain entered Parliament the Eastern 
Question forced forward by the outrages in Bulgaria, was beginning 
to disturb Europe, and a few weeks later Mr. Gladstone, who for three 
years made this subject the main business of his Ufe, stirred the naticmal 
conscience by a famous pamphlet. His demand for the expulsion 
of Turkish power ' bag and baggage ' from the oppressed and desolated 
province was enthusiastically supported by Radicals. Instead of now 
attaching conditions to his return Mr. Chamberlain appealed to him 
to resume the leadership of the Liberal force, and expressed the belief 
that Lord Hartington would be the first to urge him to put on once 
more his well-dinted armour. The veteran refused to do what the 
new member and many others suggested, but he acted with such vigour 
and spoke with such eloquence that the great mass of the party turned 



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44 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

to him for guidance. In April, 1877, without the support of the 
ofl&cial leaders of the Opposition, Mr. Gladstone gave notice of five 
resolutions declaring that Turkey, by its misgovemment, had lost all 
claim to support, and calling for the joint intervention of the Powers. 
To meet, however, the views of his former colleagues he withdrew 
four of his resolutions, and moved only the general censure of the 
Porte. According to Lord Elcho, he thus lay down in peace with 
both Lord Hartington and Mr. Chamberlain, while Mr. Bright gave 
them all his blessing. This was an inaccurate account of the position. 
Although the whole ground was covered by Mr. Gladstone's speech, 
which Mr. Arthur Balfour regarded as an unequalled feat of Parlia- 
mentary courage, ParUamentary skill. Parliamentary endurance and 
Parliamentary eloquence, the Radicals were disappointed by the 
modification of the resolutions and their new leader from Birmingham 
undertook the advocacy of joint intervention. 

Political friendship between Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Chamberlain 
was promoted by a visit which the elder statesman paid to Birmingham 
in the smnmer of 1877, at the inauguration of the National Liberal 
Federation. Mr. Chamberlain invited him in what Lord Granville 
described as ' a very weU-written letter.* ^ There was some fear lest 
the active Radical who was endeavouring to reorganize the party 
might set up the old chief against Lord Hartington and hail him as 
a returned leader. Perhaps a hint was sent to Birmingham that this 
would be embarrassing. Indiscreet language was avoided. 

Mr. Gladstone, who was the guest of the new member delivered, 
on May 31, a thrilling oration on the Eastern Question to an audience 
of 25,000 people in Bingley Hall, and his next day's engagements 
included an interview with Cardinal Newman at which his host was 
present. ' Saw Mr. Chamberlain's very pleasing children,' is a note 
in the statesman's diary, reproduced by Mr. Morley. Host and guest 
praised one another. At a banquet 'Mi. Chamberlain, who may have 
regretted his attack on Mr. Gladstone's last election address, proposed 
the health of the visitor in a glowing eulogy, recalling the years in 
Queen Victoria's reign. 

When statesmen at her council met 
Who knew the seasons when to take 
Occasion by the hand, and make 

The bounds of freedom wider yet. 

No words could have pleased Mr. Gladstone better, and he in 
turn paid a friendly tribute to ' my kind host, and your respected 
well-known and distinguished member, Mr. Chamberlain.' The 
restlessness of the younger Radical at the same time provoked some 

* Life of Lord Granville, by Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice. 



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RADICAL MEMBER 45 

banter from Mr. Bright. ' His great complaint/ said the tribune, 
' is that nobody is active enough for him ; and next week, after the 
great week which you have experienced here, I am afraid he will be 
looking forward to some further great political excitement.' ' Mr. 
Chamberlain looks through his eye-glass,' he added, ' as if he was 
only waiting till I should resume my seat, and then he might answer 
this charge which I have brought against him.' 

In the agitation on the Eastern Question Mr. Chamberlain took 
a prominent part by formulating Liberal opinion through the new 
Federation and by addressing a large nmnber of meetings. The 
object of the meetings, as he said in his pithy style, was to prevent 
a drop of blood from being shed, or a pound of English treasure being 
spent in order to uphold the detestable tyranny of the Turks ; and 
to enlist all the influence which could be exercised by diplomacy in 
order to secure the better government of their Christian provinces. 
Opinion in this country was divided between sympathy with those 
provinces and fear of their patron, the Tsar. At the beginning of 
1878, when the Russian forces entered Adrianople and reached the 
Sea of Mormora, popular feeling was excited by the supposed danger 
to our interests at Constantinople, and there was an outbiu^t of jingoism 
when the British fleet was ordered to the Dardanelles as a warning 
demonstration, but Mr. Chamberlain declared in the House of Commons 
that our interests in the east of Europe included not merely the good 
government and the welfare of the Christian inhabitants of Turkey, 
but also more cordial and friendly relations between Russia and Eng- 
land. If this question were once satisfactorily settled, he did not see 
any reason why these two coimtries should be alienated from one 
another. 

Jingo feeling became still more excited when Disraeli insisted on 
the Treaty of San Stefano, which was concluded between Russia and 
Turkey, being submitted to the European Powers. The decision of 
the Government to call out the Reserves and srnnmon Indian troops 
to Malta was noisily applauded. Still the Radicals resisted the popular 
sentiment. In April a deputation of about 450 representative men, 
organized by the Committee of the Federation and the National 
Reform Union, under the direction of Mr. Chamberlain, had 
an interview with the Opposition leaders, whose attitude did not 
satisfy them ; and in the House of Commons Sir Wilfrid Lawson 
submitted an amendment declaring that the calling out of the Reserves 
was neither prudent in the interests of European peace nor necessary 
for the sake of the coimtry, nor warranted by the state of matters 
abroad. This, although moved against the desire of the party chiefs, 
was supported by Mr. Chamberlain. It had been said that the Treaty 
of ?an Stefano would abrogate Turkey in Europe. ' If that were all,' 



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46 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

said Mr. Chamberlain, ' so much the better for the world. Turkey 
in Europe was an anachronism, and the sooner she was abrogated 
the better for the Turkish provinces.' Lord Hartington, deprecating 
' this unfortunate and ill-advised amendment,' urged that it was not 
desirable to multiply occasions of difference between the one side of 
the House and the other. The mover, however, took a division, and 
Mr. Chamberlain acted with him as teller. 

Liberals of the two sections united after the Berlin Congress. 
The Treaty of San Stefano was in most of its essential features ratified 
by the Congress, and thus it led to the emancipation of eleven millions 
of people from the Turkish yoke, but by an arrangement with the 
Porte we acquired C5^rus and undertook to defend Turkey against 
Russian aggression in Asia. Lord Hartington, on August i, submitted 
a resolution to the House deploring that an engagement had been 
entered into and responsibilities incurred without the previous know- 
ledge of Parliament. The speech which Mr. Chamberlain delivered 
on this issue was strikingly in contrast with his imperialist orations 
of later years. Although willing to undertake a certain responsi- 
bility, he declared that already the weary Titan staggered under 
' the too vast orb of her fate,' and he denounced the Government 
for having spent ten millions to satisfy the ' vulgar patriotism of the 
music-halls.' He complained that the British plentipotentiaries 
at the Congress showed themselves the ready and willing champions 
of the selfish fears and jealousies of great despotisms, and that on 
more than one occasion they repressed the aspirations and limited 
the claims of the subject-nationalities. One of these plenipotentiaries 
became his first chief in a Unionist Government, and the private 
secretary who accompanied that Minister to Berlin was his second 
coalition chief. From the latter he received the sternest rebuke in 
the controversy, Mr. Arthur Balfour complaining of his * most bitter 
harangues ' and deploring that he remembered too much that they 
belonged to different parties and too little that they belonged to 
the same country. The unrepentant Mr. Chamberlain exclaimed a 
few years later with reference to the Congress : — 

But all the honour Salisbury hath won 
Is that he was the Lord Ambassador. 



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VII 
CONSERVATIVE BOGEY 

EVEN when Mr. Chamberlain sat below the gangway in his first 
Parliament his schemes to make the world better than he found 
it began to irritate pohticians who thought either that this was the 
best of all possible worlds or that they themselves were the persons to 
reform it. Sir Robert Peel, the great statesman's son and elder 
brother of the celebrated Speaker, remarked that the member for 
Birmingham was always ready to bring forward his patent medicines 
for remedies. * Chamberlain's plans,' he said, were so constantly 
produced in the Midlands that he was quite sick of them. Another 
interesting criticism was that of Lord Derby, who remarked that Mr. 
Chamberlain reminded him of the American poUtician of whom it was 
said : ' He's beat, but he ain't going to stay beat.' Certainly he did 
not at this or any other stage of his career stay beat. He continued 
on every opportunity to advocate Free Schools, Free Land, Free 
Church ; and in 1878 he anticipated the institution of local govern- 
ment by urging that the administration of county business should be 
entrusted to a Board elected directly by a household franchise. Many 
years were to pass ere the Conservatives recognized the necessity of 
popular county government, and at this time Mr. Chaplin, his friend 
at a later epoch, confronted Mr. Chamberlain with their fears and 
prejudices. 

Whigs and Tories were frightened by the new political ' machine,' 
of which the rising Radical was the most conspicuous promoter. 
He gave the whole credit for it to his friend, Mr. William Harris, the 
honorary secretary of the Birmingham Liberal Association. This 
Association, based in 1868 upon purely representative principles, 
had for half a dozen years few imitators, but aiter the general election 
of 1874, when the Liberal party maintained its position in Birmingham 
while sustaining many defeats elsewhere, one constituency after another 
adopted the new model. The next step taken was to unite the Associa- 
tions in a National Federation. This movement, Uke so many others, 
originated in Birmingham. On the invitation of the officers of several 
Associations a conference was held there in May, 1877 ; it was attended 
by del^ates from many parts of the coimtry ; the Federation was 
inaugurated with Mr. Chamberlain as president and Mr. H. H. Fowler 

47 



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48 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

(afterwards Lord Wolverhampton) among the vice-presidents ; and 
Mr. Gladstone on the occasion of his visit, described in the previous 
chapter, gave it his countenance and support. At the first meeting 
of the General Conmiittee, on July 2, Mr. Schnadhorst was appointed 
secretary. 

The Birmingham Association had been hotly denounced as an 
odious tyranny, and when the Federation was formed with the aim 
of being, in its president's words, ' a Liberal Parhament outside the 
Imperial Legislature,' the alarm of cautious Whigs and hostile Tories 
was increased. Lord Hartington, on being asked to give it his official 
blessing, demurred on the ground that it represented only one section 
of the party. Its legality was questioned in the House of Commons. 
Sir George Bowyer inquired if it came under the Act of George III, 
for the effectual repression of societies estabhshed for seditious and 
treasonable purposes. Mr. Chamberlain retorted with a counter 
question as to the National Union of Conservative Associations, which 
had been founded on a somewhat similar plan. The Attorney-General 
replied that as at present constituted the Federation did not come 
within the Act, but, by way of favourable contrast to it, he mentioned 
that Mr. Gorst (afterwards Sir John Gorst), the honorary secretary 
of the National Union, had assured him that the Conservative organi- 
zation was established, not to overtiun, but to maintain the laws and 
constitution of the Kingdom ! 

Dislike of the strange monster was strengthened by the part it 
played in the agitation on the Eastern Question. For three years 
its operations were mainly directed against the foreign policy of Lord 
Beaconsfield's Government. Nimierous resolutions were adopted 
and circulars issued by the Conmiittee with the view of educating 
and formulating public opinion, and on a single day at the b^inning 
of 1878, in response to a suggestion from headquarters, 127 meet- 
ings ' of weight and influence ' were held throughout the country 
with a common object. Seeing that the officers were Birmingham 
citizens and that Mr. Chamberlain was the president, that ambitious 
man was able to control the ' machine ' and to exercise great influence 
on public opinion and to bring it to bear effectively on party leaders. 

Lord Beaconsfield sneered at the new organization as a Caucus. 
The word was imported from the vocabulary of United States poUtics, 
where it indicated a local meeting of the voters of a party to choose 
candidates for local offices or to nominate del^ates to a convention, 
but although its American origin^ was brought up against it in 
disparagement its champion was undisturbed, and he was inclined, 

* ' This day found that the Caucus Club meets at certain times in the yard of 
Tom Dawes, adjutant of the Boston (Militia) Regiment.' — ^Diary of John Adams, 
1753- 



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CONSERVATIVE BOGEY 49 

indeed, as he said, to take the sneer as a compliment. Mr. Chamber- 
lain defended the Caucus in the Fortnightly Review of July, 1877, and 
November, 1878, explaining that what was sought was not a change 
of leaders, but the expression of such an amount of pubhc opinion 
as would encourage them to move a little quicker and a httle farther. 
Looking forward a few years we find him describing it as absolutely 
representative, whereas in the Conservative copy the body was there 
but not the soul. ' The Primrose League,' he said, when it was formed 
in 1883, ' is more in the Tory way, with its silly, sentimental title.' 

But he lived to be the hero of the League. 

***** 

The most piquant and memorable incident of Mr. Chamberlain's 
early years in Parliament was his repudiation of the leadership of 
Lord Hartington, who confessed nearly a quarter of a century later 
that his position as an old Whig between Mr. Gladstone and 'the 
new and aspiring Radical leader,' was not always a happy one. Re- 
bellious words used by the member for Birmingham were quoted on 
innumerable occasions by Conservatives when the two statesmen 
sat in the same Liberal Cabinet, and by Liberals with equal iteration 
when they acted still more closely together in a Unionist Adminis- 
tration. In one respect his impression of the controversy which 
provoked the outburst differed from that of his friends. While they 
regarded him as among the pioneers of obstruction in consequence 
of his conduct on this occasion, he asserted after becoming ' a re- 
formed character ' that he never obstructed. 

It was on the Army Discipline Bill of 1879 that the incident 
occurred. One of the severest, most determined contests ever fought 
in the Parliamentary arena took pla^e on the question of flogging 
in the army. Mr. Chamberlain denounced the practice as degrading, 
debasing, and unworthy of our civihzation ; he contended that it 
was injurious to discipline and prevented the best men from going 
into the ranks. In a protracted resistance to the system he was 
associated with Mr. Parnell and other Irish Nationalists as well as 
with a number of Radicals, On June 17 he admitted ' it might be 
said ' that their proceedings amounted to obstruction but he thought 
persistent opposition was justified by the persistent obstinacy of the 
Government. A speech in which he showed a large number of offences 
for which flogging was liable to be administered produced a grave 
impression even on the Conservatives, and Colonel Stanley, the War 
Minister, expressed his readiness to limit the class of crimes in this 
category. Two days later Mr. Parnell and others pressed for total 
abolition. Sir William Harcourt advised them to give way on account 
of the concessions obtained, but Mr. Chamberlain, while professing, 
perhaps ironically, the readiness of members below the gangway to 



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50 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

receive Sir William's advice at all times with respect, retorted that 
they could get nothing from the Govenmient except by what was 
commonly called obstruction. The friends of hmnanity and the 
friends of the British army, he said, owed a debt of gratitude to his 
honourable friend, Mr. Pamell, for standing up alone against this 
system when others had not the courage of their convictions, and 
Mr. Justin McCarthy has stated that Mr. Chamberlain privately 
spoke to him with great admiration of that remarkable man and his 
tactics. 

' What was conmionly called obstruction ' was resumed in the 
beginning of July, and opponents of flogging insisted on specimens 
of the ' cat ' being exhibited. There was a prolonged sitting on the 
subject on July 3 ; the House met on Saturday, the 5th, to deal with 
it and did not adjourn till Sunday morning; and when Irishmen 
were charged with obstruction their Birmingham friend declared 
that English representatives were prepared to take the same course. 

Lord Hartington at the renewal of the controversy on the following 
Monday had, as he told Lord Granville, ' a row with Chamberlain and 
the Radicals.' After the discussion had lasted for several hours, 
Mr. Hopwood, one of the latter, incidentally referred to him as their 
leader. Declming this title, he warmly declared that the course 
which Mr. Hopwood and those acting with him were taking was ill- 
advised, and extremely prejudicial to the dignity of Parliament. 
Thereupon came Mr. Chamberlain's repudiation. 'The noble lord,' 
he said in his icy manner, ' had not unfortunately been in the House 
during a great portion of the discussion — a thing which had been 
very much noticed on previous occasions. It was rather inconvenient 
that they should have so little of the presence of the noble lord, lately 
the leader of the Opposition, but now the leader of a section only.' Every 
phrase in this utterance must have been galling to the statesman 
who had reluctantly undertaken a thankless task, and the deepest 
insult was given by the j&nal taunt. It was among the things which 
would have been better left unsaid ; but that Mr. Chamberlain ever 
wished it unsaid there is no proof. Mr. Fawcett, an independent Radical 
who although he had lost his sight acquired an influential position 
in Parliament, rushed to Lord Hartington's defence and undertook 
still to follow him. The obstructives, however, continued their 
practices. 

There was a curious sequel to the incident. Eight days later 
the Whig statesman threw in his lot with the Radicals. It had become 
apparent that the Government had no dear conviction in their own 
minds of the indispensable necessity of the punishment which was 
so strongly opposed, and in these circumstances he stated that he 
did not feel obliged any longer to support them. Naturally, Mr. 



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CONSERVATIVE BOGEY 51 

Chamberlain heard the announcement to this effect with ' much pleasure 
and gratification/ and once more with characteristic rea^ess to 
follow a chief who took the direction from himself he recognized Lord 
Hartington as ' the leader of the Opposition.' When the noble lord 
himself, with Mr. Gladstone's approval, moved an amendment against 
the permanent retention of corporal punishment for military offences, 
Mr. Charles Russell, afterwards the Lord Chief Justice, congratulated 
Mr. Chamberlain on ' his great triumph,* and Mr. Chaplin scornfully 
attributed the Liberal leader's conversion to the fact that the chief 
of the Caucus had gone down to Birmingham, and set to work all his 
wires and all the resources of his American organization. Mr. Punch, 
who described him and his friends as English iniransigents, did ' not 
like to see the tail of the Opposition wagging its head in this way.' 

The abolition of flogging, which was not long delayed, was justified 
by the results, and some of those who had defended the practice 
lived to recognize that a public service was done by the obstructive 
Radicals and their Irish friends. As for Mr. Chamberlain, however 
much his views on other subjects changed, he never modified his 
detestation of this form of punishment, and when he was Secretary 
of State twenty years later he stopped it in Crown Colonies. There 
was no malice in his reference to Lord Hartington. He had stated 
in 1877, even when he did not see eye to eye with the Whig statesman 
on the Eastern Question, that ' with the exception of Mr. Gladstone 
there is no Liberal leader who would command as much confidence 
and support as Lord Hartington has secured,' and he never showed 
a preference for any substitute. After their passing disagreement 
he joined with other members of the party in inviting him to a banquet 
in honour of his services to the Opposition. 

At almost all points of Conservative policy Mr. Chamberlain was 
a very severe and bitter critic. Parliament having been summoned 
in December, 1878, on account of the military expedition to Afghanis- 
tan, he made a sharp attack on the Government and complained of 
a deliberate attempt to substitute might for right in dealing with 
Indian princes. ' What,' he asked, * of our scrupulous good faith ? 
What of ouc prestige in India ? These we are willing to throw away 
in pursuit of the hazy phantom of a scientific frontier ! ' The war 
with the Zulus also provoked his strongest censures, and in an impas- 
sioned passage he asked where was the policy of annexation to stop. 
He sneered at the new Imperialism, and declared that ' unless this 
^irit were, either by Parliament or by the people at large, severely 
and sternly repressed there could hardly be a limit to the responsi- 
bilities which might be fastened upon us, and none to the difficulties 
and even the disasters yet in store for this country.' Annexation 
of territory and increase of responsibility were dreaded by a member 



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52 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

who, in later years, described those who inherited his views as Little 
Englanders. 

As the Beaconsfield Administration drew near its doom his invec- 
tive did not grow milder nor did the rebukes of his own censors abate 
in severity. In 1879 he called on its chief to appeal once more ' to 
the country he had betrayed, the tax-payers whose burdens he had 
increased, and the working classes whose industry he had paral5^sed.' 
While Lord Hartington enjoyed the commendation of the Ministerial 
organs for his moderation, violence was attributed to Mr. Chamber- 
lain. The Times charged him with passing the bounds of decent 
political warfare. * We feel for our part ashamed,' it said, ' that 
any English politician who holds a respectable position should con- 
descend to this kind of Billingsgate. ' Mr. Chamberlain was, however, 
incorrigible. He suggested the following epitaph for the expiring 
Government : — 

Here lies a Tory Ministry 

Whose word no man relies on ; 
Who never said the thing they meant. 

And never did a wise one.* 

' Thd4>ogey of Torjdsm,' was his character at the close of his first 
Parliament. Sir William Harcourt who visited the Midland capital as 
his guest in January, 1880, said in the course of a speech : * I remember 
the time when the senior member for Birmingham was the great bogey 
of the Tory party, but those heretics had the habit both of burning 
what they adored and of adoring what they burnt, and accordingly 
Mr. Bright had been deposed from the high rank of a destructive 
spirit to the inferior grade of guardian angel, and by a sort of apostolic 
succession Mr. Chamberlain had been consecrated the arch-bogey 
of Toryism.' In the same strain he referred to his host as 'this 
dragon of Birmingham by terror of whose name Tory mothers keep 
their infants in order.' Sir William himself and Mr. Chamberlain 
had not alwa}^ agreed in Opposition, but a feeling of personal esteem 
which survived many political storms was sown in fertile ground — 
for both men were capable of abiding friendship. ' I have spent,' said 
the visitor, 'twenty-four hours under the dragon's roof, and I am 
prepared to prove that he partakes of the qualities of ordinary himian 
nature. He eats, drinks, sleeps like other mortals, and I have not 
yet been able to detect the cloven hoof.' Not yet ! 

^ A parody on the lines written by the Earl of Rochester on the bed-chamber 
door of Charles II : — 

Here lies our sovereign lord the king. 

Whose word no man relies on ; 
He never says a foolish thing. 

Nor ever does a wise one. 



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VIII 
LIBERAL MINISTER AND ' PRO-BOER ' 

IN less than four years from the time that he entered the House of 
Commons Mr. Chamberlam was a Cabinet Minister seated on the 
Treasury bench in the company of statesmen who had felt the lash of 
his tongue. Parliament was dissolved in March, 1880. If Mr. Glad- 
stone was the inspirer of the Liberal victory which swept Disraeli 
forever from power, Mr. Chamberlain was its organizer. For the 
success of the party a large share of the credit was claimed on 
behalf of his Caucus. It existed in sixty-seven of the boroughs 
in which contests occurred, and in sixty of these Liberal seats were 
gained or retained. Also in all of the ten coimty constituencies in 
which it had been estabhshed and where contests took place the Liberals 
won seats. PoUtidans who had sneered at it were not ashamed to 
profit by the new organization. The ParUament returned with the 
impetus of the Midlothian campaign was, according to Bright, the 
best that had ever been elected. Unexpected events sadly marred 
its achievements, but it opened its career with the very best intentions 
under the glamour of the great statesman who had been called by 
the unmistakable voice of the country to buckle on again his ' well- 
dinted armour.' 

Queen Victoria reluctantly accepted the advice of Lord Hartington 
and Lord Granville, and commissioned Mr. Gladstone to form a 
Government. He received the promise of the co-operation of the 
two statesmen who had led the party in Opposition and at once named 
Lord Selbome and Mr. Childers also for high ofi&ces. The Duke 
of Argyll, Sir William Harcourt, Lord Kimberley, Mr. Bright and 
Mr. Forster were quickly added. But what of the Radicals ? When 
the Ust came out, and the name neither of Sir Charles Dilke nor of 
Mr. Chamberlain was found, the advanced politicians who had done 
so much for victory were bitterly disappointed. Birmingham Liberals 
were specially annoyed. It was nmioured, and the nmiour has 
been confirmed, that Mr. Gladstone was reluctant to call any of the 
new Radicals to Downing Street. When at last he responded to 
the representations of friends and sent for Sir Charles Dilke, he learned 
that the baronet and Mr. Chamberlain had agreed not to join the 
Government unless the one or the other received a post of Cabinet 

53 



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54 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

rank. Yielding to the inevitable, he gave the preference to the member 
for Birmingham, who became President of the Board of Trade, while 
his friend and ally was appointed Under-Secretary for Foreign Afiairs. 
* Your poUtical opinions,' wrote the Prime Minister to Mr. Chamber- 
Iain, 'may on some points go rather beyond what I may call the 
general measure of the Government, but I hope and believe that there 
can be no practical impediment on this score to your acceptance 
of my proposal.' ^ 

As the new Minister told his constituents, he accepted the office 
which Mr. Gladstone graciously offered him, not without some hesita- 
tion, both because he distrusted his own quaUfications after so short 
an experience of Parliamentary Ufe, and also because he could not 
surrender without r^et that full independence which he had enjoyed 
as a private member. It was only now that he finally severed his 
connection with the Birmingham Town Council by resigning his 
seat as an alderman. He was still proud of his parochial interests. 
' I will confess to you,' he said, in one of those sonorous passages 
which impress the memory, ' that I am so parochially-minded that 
I look with greater satisfaction to our annexation of the gas and 
water, to our scientific frontier in the improvement area, than I do 
to the result of that imperial policy which has given us Cyprus and 
the Transvaal ; and I am prouder of having been engaged with you 
in warring against ignorance and disease and crime in Bumingham than 
if I had been the author of the Zulu War and had instigated the 
invasion of Afghanistan.' 

Surprise and doubt were expressed in some quarters on account 
of the selection of Mr. Chamberlain instead of his friend for a post 
within the Cabinet — a preference which may have been influenced 
by the aggressive manner in which Sir Charles Dilke had advocated 
Republicanism. The Times remarked that the member for Birm- 
ingham was not the most conspicuous of the advanced Liberajs. 
' In Parliamentary experience and reputation he is scarcely the 
equal of either Mr. Fawcett or Sir Charles Dilke.' At the same time 
it admitted ' he has shown a vigorous grasp of affairs and considerable 
power in debate. Moreover, he is the Camot of the hour, the organizer 
of Liberal victory.' The Standard also said that the country would 
not altogether endorse the preference shown for Mr. Chamberlain, 
as compared with Sir Charles Dilke, and sneeringly remarked that 
the author of the Caucus in England had obtained his reward. ' These 
Radical gentlemen ' — ^the Conservative oigan went on to observe — 
' who now find themselves for the first time in Downing Street or 
thereabouts will discover before long that they have a good deal to 
learn and not a Uttle to forget. We are not altogether sorry that 
^ Lifa of Gladstone, by John Morley, 



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LIBERAL MINISTER AND 'PRO-BOER' 55 

they are there, and that their political education, in the higher sense 
of the word, is thus about to commence.' The Daily News expressed 
Liberal opinion on the appointment without any fervour : ' Mr* 
Chamberlain has not indeed had long Parliamentary experience, but 
he has what may be called the poUtical instinct to a remarkable 
d^[ree ; he has made good use of his time in Parliament, and he is 
the recognized representative of a new poUtical school in one part of 
England.' The limitation to * one part of England ' was not at all 
generous. 

The superior claims of Sir Charles Dilke were frankly recognized 
by Mr. Chamberlain. He had thought, as he told his constituents, 
that if representatives were chosen to sit in the Cabinet of what was 
sometimes called the advanced section of the Liberal party, the choice 
would fall elsewhere than on himself. ' There was one of his poUtical 
friends, one of his dearest poUtical friends, who was designated by 
pubUc nmiour — ^he meant Sir Charles Dilke — ^to whom he would 
most gladly have given place.' But, he added, when the offer was 
made to him he did not fed that it would be right for him to shrink 
from the responsibiUty, however great he felt it to be. The conduct 
of Mr. Chamberlain and Sir Charles Dilke on this occasion reflected 
credit on both. Their friendship was closer than that of poUtical 
coUeagues, as a rule, and it stood the test of many severe buffets* 
By their comradeship the strength of each was doubled in the Govern- 
ment. They were often in consultation and on many a night during 
the ParUament of 1880 they left the House together, conversing 
eagerly, and laying plans which, alas I went agley. In 1886 their 
paths were divided, and for many subsequent years they faced each 
other as poUtical opponents, but their personal allusions were alwaj^ 
of a kindly and considerate character. 

Here, in May, 1880, was the Birmingham mayor on the Treasury 
bench — ^a very piquant personaUty — alert, resolute, dear-minded 
and ambitious, with the sharpest eyes in the world and a fine faculty 
for speech. Usually he sat near the Speaker's chair. John Bright 
often lounged at that part of the bench, but would now and again 
move up beside Mr. Gl9.dstone, the spectade of the two noble old 
heads and faces dose together forming a most striking and memorable 
picture. It was a Government of remarkable men. Next to Mr. 
Gladstone, as a rule, were Lord Hartington and Sir WilUam Har- 
court, the Home Secretary. Lord Hartington was deputy leader 
and commanded the respect of aU the Liberals. Although regarded 
as the chief of the Whig group in the Cabinet, his loyalty to the 
Prime Minister and services to the party were highly appreciated, 
and he was thoroughly trusted and liked. Sir WilUam Har- 
court was not taken quite seriously. In his old age poUtidans of 



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56 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

every section recognized his earnestness, but in the early 'eighties he 
gave the impression of a splendid place-man, more conspicuous for 
devemess than for conviction. Mr. Childers sat as near Mr. Glad- 
stone as possible, and often had a close companion in Mr. Forster, 
who as Irish Secretary was greatly badgered by the Nationalists, 
and who defended his policy with a dogged, animated energy which 
appealed to the House. His shaggy hair, which he tossed from his 
forehead in his vehanence, was characteristic of the demeanour of 
a man whose rough aspect concealed a humane disposition. Another 
interesting figure on the bench was that of Sir Henry James (after- 
wards Lord James of Hereford), the Attorney-General. Sir Henry, 
with deep political interests, exercised more influence than that of 
the average law officer and enjoyed in a considerable degree Mr. Glad- 
stone's regard. The colleague for whom the chief showed the wannest 
feeling was Lord Frederick Cavendish, the Secretary to the Treasury, 
who in an iU-fated hour went to Dublin Castle. Lord Frederick's 
devotion to him was more than that of a political subordinate. It was 
characterized by a knightly chivalry. 

The Cabinet of 1880 was a sort of coalition in which Whig was 
aUied with Radical. Mr. Gladstone gave it equihbrium, now inclining 
to the one section, and now to the other. He had shown a preference 
for moderate men in forming the Government, but on several critical 
occasions during its existence he yielded to the influence of advanced 
opinion. The leaders of the rival sections differed as much in tem- 
perament as in ideas. Lord Salisbury wittily likened the Cabinet 
to an old Dutch clock : ' When it is going to be fine Lord Hartington 
appears, and when Mr. Joseph Chamberlain is seen you may look out 
for squalls.' The Radical, however, was not irreconcilable. Just 
as he had made a favourable impression on the royal visitors at Birm- 
ingham, and on the House of Commons when he first entered it, 
he won now the esteem of colleagues at Downing Street. Lord Sel- 
bome, the new Lord Chancellor, writing on the formation of the 
Government, described him as ' a personally agreeable man, of good 
countenance, manners and address.' He was helpful with his sug- 
gestive mind and faculty for business, and he recognized that in 
politics he could not get everything he wanted at once. Froude 
expressed the opinion of at least the majority of his associates when, 
in writing to Lady Derby, he said, * I like Chamberlain. He knows 
his mind. There is no dust in his eyes and he throws no dust in the 
-eyes of others.' ^ 

Transvaal troubles were among the earliest that afflicted the 
Government, and their change of policy within a year provided an 
opportunity for attack. Mr. Chamberlain was entrusted by the 
s Lifa of Froude, by Herbert Ftral. 



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LIBERAL MINISTER AND 'PRO-BOER' 57 

Prime Minister with the duty of speaking for the defence, althofigh 
the matter lay far outside his own department. According to Sir 
William Harcourt's recollection of the incident, given in 1900, 
a great honour was thus conferred upon one who was ' only lately a 
Cabinet Minister, in being selected to declare to Parliament what 
was the poUcy and what were the motives of the Cabinet.* In 1877 
Mr. Chamberlain voted in the minority against the annexation of the 
Transvaal, and Mr. Gladstone's references to the subject in Midlothian, 
although brief, were suflcient to produce the impression that he 
also would, if he could, reverse the poUcy of his predecessors. Never- 
theless, when the Liberals came into ofi&ce, they decided that what- 
ever might be thought of the original act of annexation they could 
not safely or wisely abandon the territory. Mr. Chamberlain, while 
defending this decision in debate in August, 1880, admitted that the 
House in authorizing the annexation acted on inaccurate information, 
inasmuch as the general belief was that the vast majority of the 
inhabitants were in favour of it, whereas subsequent proceedings 
proved conclusively that this was not the case. 

Events, however, did not halt here, and the Government were 
soon hurried into another frame of mind. The Boers, disappointed 
by the Liberals in whom they had placed their hopes, broke into 
rebeUion. A series of disasters to our troops culminated at Majuba 
Hill ; and although our forces were soon declared to be in a position 
to overwhelm the Boers, it was decided to continue the negotiations 
which had been opened before the defeats took place, and the Trans- 
vaal speedily recovered its independence. Again Mr. Chamberlain's 
ingenuity was employed in debate to defend the new decision. On 
the former occasion attack came from Mr. Courtney, a champion of 
nationalities struggUng to be free ; now it proceeded from the Con- 
servatives, who stood by their original policy. 

The spirited and sympathetic speech in which the Radical Minister 
justified the magnanimity of the British Government was frequently 
quoted against him twenty years afterwards. He Uved to describe 
the retrocession as ' a disastrous mistake,' * but at the time it was 
effected he commended it with an earnestness which undoubtedly 
sprang from conviction. Never had he been more eloquent or forcible. 
To maintain annexation was, he said in 1881, 'impossible for any 
Government caring for the honour as well as for the interests of this 
country. It was contrary to our treaty engagements ; it was con- 
trary to the best traditions of a free country.' His generous and glow- 
ing tribute to the virtues of the Boers formed the text of many diatribes 
in another Parliamentary generation by men who were his early friends 
but from whom he parted. ' Are they not virtues,' he asked, 
* September 23, 1900. 



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58 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

' which we are proud to believe form the best characteristics of the 
English people ? Is it against such a nation that we are to be called 
upon to exercise the dread arbitrament of arms ? * 

The defeat of a few hundred troops by greatly superior forces could 
not, in his opinion, be treated as a matter of national importance 
demanding necessarily the further sacrifice of human life. ' A great 
nation could afford to be generous/ This was a note he had struck at 
Birmingham. ' What/ said Mr. Chamberlain, ' is the use of being 
great and powerful if we are afraid to admit an error when we are 
conscious of it ? Shame is not in the confession of a mistake. Shame 
lies only in persistency in wilful wrong-doing.' This opinion he 
repeated in debate on April, 1883. He protested against the idea 
that it was the duty of the Government to have continued the war, 
after they had determined to abandon the territory, for the purpose of 
revenge and to maintain our military prestige. * It was, and it is 
our opinion,' he said, ' that that would have been an act of unparalleled 
wickedness.' Sir William Harcourt stated nearly twenty years 
later that Mr. Chamberlain was selected to speak for the Government 
on this subject because he was so earnest a believer in retrocession. 
He could not, in De Quincey's fine phrase, look' behind the curtain of 
destiny.' 



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IX 
IRELAND AND EGYPT 

ALMOST every step taken by the Ministry in the Parhament of 
1880-85 was impeded by the two bold leaders below the Opposi- 
tion gangway, whose political genius was equal to Mr. Chamberlain's 
and who excited an interest as great even as was aroused by the aspiring 
Radical. While Lord Randolph Churchill at the head of the Fourth 
Party devoted his brilliant talents to a constant effort to discredit 
and thwart the Liberal administration, Mr. Pamell did his utmost 
not only to destroy British rule in Ireland, but also to render Parlia- 
mentary government impossible at Westminster so long as Home Rule 
was denied to that coimtry. There was now in the House of Commons 
a compact and independent party of Nationalists. They included 
several able debaters, eloquent speakers and untiring obstructives. 
Mr. Pamell's mastery over the party waS complete. His manners 
were cold and reserved ; with a slow, stiff utterance he could make a 
biting ferocious attack, but he was not an orator ; he came and went 
mysteriously and was sometimes absent when a lead was urgently 
needed ; yet his influence appeared unshakable. His followers might 
murmur at his absence and even venture in an emergency to take a 
line of their own ; he would enter at the bar and push his way along the 
third bench to a seat near the gangway, scarcely glancing at the men 
around him ; he would ascertain what had happened, and if necessary 
express his views in his precise, chilling phrases, with a rare and momen- 
tary flash of the fiercest passion; then colleagues who had been 
previously muttering against him applauded with imrestrained 
enthusiasm, and British members listened in a sort of angry, terrified 
silence. 

A mysterious spell was cast over the whole House by this strange, 
masterful man. He seemed to wield an incalculable force. Mr. 
Gladstone was saddened by the outbursts of the Irish ; Mr. Chamberlain 
was suspected of qnnpathy with their discontent ; most of the other 
Ministers were filled either with despair or with resentment. Mr. 
Pamell's career came to a deplorable end with name sullied in the 
Divorce Court, with his leadership wrenched from his strong, hard- 
holding hands, with the reproaches of colleagues and alUes in his 
dying ears. But in the early eighties he played the Parliamentary 

59 



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6o JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

game with a skilful and long-sighted, inflexible audacity which ex- 
torted a Home Rule policy from a great British party and excited 
the amazement and almost the awe of members on both sides. 

While Ireland hampered and harried the Government, from the 
beginning to the end of its existence, Mr. Chamberlain was carried 
through many phases of emotion. The House of Lords added not a 
few drops to the cup of his wrath when it threw out in 1880 the Com- 
pensation for Disturbance Bill ; and when Mr. Forster demanded that 
Parliament should be summoned at the end of the year to pass a 
measure of coercion he threatened to resign. His threat was partly 
responsible for the postponement of this process. In the session of 
1881, which was mainly devoted to Irish affairs, the Government 
applied not only the lash of coercion but along with it a remedy for 
the ills of the distressed country in the shape of a great scheme of 
agrarian reform which provided for the fixing of fair rents by a com- 
mission, for the free sale of the tenants' interests in thefr holdings, 
and for security of tenure. Mr. Chamberlain felt no sorrow when the 
Duke of Argyll left the Government on account of the Land BiU. 
He was more gravely concerned by the Nationalist opposition to the 
other Irish measure, which authorized the Lord-Lieutenant to issue 
a warrant for the arrest of any person whom he might reasonably sus- 
Tpect of any treasonable or agrarian offence. 

' I hate coercion,' said the Radical Minister, in one of those in- 
cisive and unmistakable passages which have been included among 
ParUamentary classics, and with which every political novice is 
familiar ; ' I hate the name and I hate the thing.' ' I am bound 
to say,' he continued, * that I believe there is not one of my colleagues 
who does not hate it as I do.' ' But then,' he added, in order to justify 
his support of the obnoxious bill, ' we hate disorder more.' Ordinary 
Parliamentary rules were imable to overcome the obstruction with 
which it was resisted, and debate on the first reading was closed by the 
arbitrary action of Speaker Brand, who terminated a sitting which 
lasted two days and two nights by rising, and on his own authority, 
putting the question to the vote. Even the Land Act, carried by Mr. 
Gladstone, when accompanied by coercion, failed to conciliate the 
NationaUsts, and for a time at least Mr. Chamberlain was constrained 
to point out that their object was not the same as his. * We want,' he 
said, * to remove every just cause of grievance ; th^ want to magnify 
grievances, and to intensify differences.' Still he laboured in and 
out of the Cabinet, while supporting the cause of order, to promote 
sympathy and to arrange a settlement between the two countries. 

The arrest of Mr. Pamell and several colleagues as * suspects ' 
in October, 1881, rendered his position more embarrassing. The legis- 
lation of the year had been followed in Ireland by a no-rent agitation 



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IRELAND AND EGYPT 6r 

and a system of terrorism which included moonlighting and boycotting. 
Mr. Gladstone sent resoimding from Leeds the phrase that ' the re^ 
som-ces of civilization against its enemies are not yet exhausted/ 
and a few days later the kingdom was startled by the news that Mr. 
Pamell had been sent to Kilmainham prison. It had become neces- 
sary, as Mr. Chamberlain explained, to put the Irish leader and some 
of his friends in jail to prevent them from interrupting the operation 
of the Land Act. At the same time the Land League, with which 
the Nationalists controlled agrarian Ireland, was proclaimed as an 
illegal and criminal association. While acquiescing, as a member of 
the Govemnlent, in these proceedings the Radical Minister alarmed 
the Conservatives by a speech which he delivered at Liverpool. His 
opponents had complained that the League was not suppressed sooner. 
' Its original objects,' replied Mr. Chamberlain, ' were legal, and were 
even praiseworthy, and to stifle agitation at such a time would have 
been to have prevented reform.' His dislike of coercion was again 
expressed in a manner displeasing to the Opposition. 'With the 
Tories,' he bluntly asserted, ' coercion is a policy ; with us it is only a 
hateful incident.' Yet his attempts to unite conciliation with coercion 
satisfied nobody. At the beginning of the next Session he was attacked 
both by Conservatives and by Nationalists. By the former he was 
roundly abused for his Liverpool speech, which was r^arded as a 
palliation of crime. By the latter he was reproached for his conniv- 
ance in coercion. 'We have honestly endeavoured,' he pleaded, 
' tq do our duty and to steer an even course between extremes.' In 
the troubled sea of politics an even course is hard to keep. Sir Richard 
Cross described Mr. Chamberlain as the evil genius of the Cabinet in 
Irish policy, and before long that vigilant Conservative was convinced 
that his suspicion was justified. 

A demand for the recall of Mr. Forster from the Irish Secretaryship 
was made with persistency early in 1882 by the Pall Mall Gazette, 
which was then, under the editorship of Mr. Morley, exercising a power- 
ful influence on the Liberal side. Although the Radical Minister, when 
challenged on the subject of the articles in the House of Commons, 
described the editor as one of the most independent men in the king-^ 
dom the Pall Mall was regarded by Mr. Forster's friends as the organ 
of opinions which had either been suggested or would be adopted by 
Mr. Chamberlain. In these circumstances high significance was 
naturally given to such a passage as the following : ' Lord Hartington 
was not the ideal Chief Secretary,^ but his hard, grave sense is much, 
nearer the mark of what is wanted than any quantity of dishevelled 
sentimentalism. As for sympathy with the population of Ireland, what 
is wanted is not sentimental qnnpathy, but an eye for the forces ia 
1 Lord Hartington was Chief Secretary from x 8/1 to 1874. 



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62 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Irdand out of which we may hope to build up an ordered government.' 
The arrest of the Nationalist leaders had failed to check the agrarian 
movement and it had become painfully clear that Mr. Forster was not 
the man to bring peace to the disturbed country. Mr. Gladstone said 
of him, when all his struggles in this mortal scene were over, ' He was 
a man upon whom there could be no doubt that Nature had laid her 
hand for the purpose of forming a thoroughly genuine and independent 
character.' His qualities, however, were not those of tact and con- 
ciliation. His 'dishevelled sentimentalism ' was spumed by the 
leaders of the people to whom sympathy, accompanied by coercion, 
was offered, and statesmen were dismayed by the fear of another year 
of disorder in Ireland and turmoil in the House of Commons. A new 
departure was decided upon. Another effort of conciliation was made 
in response to an overture from Kilmainham. 

The struggle between the member for Birmingham and Mr. Forster 
reached a dramatic stage when Mr. Pamell was released in May and 
the Chief Secretary resigned his post. Mr. Forster's biographer has 
attributed Mr. Chamberlain's conduct mainly to personal dislike. 
He says the followers of the Birmingham statesman were naturally 
anxious that their hero should arrive at the summit of his ambition, 
and Mr. Forster was the man who stood most directly in his path. 
The discovery that the Irish Secretary had at that time any prospect 
of succeeding to the Liberal leadership was probably confined to Sir 
Wemyss Reid, but undoubtedly many politicians believed that he had 
been the victim of an intrigue in the Cabinet, and the Conservatives 
rallied to the cry. He became their hero when he explained that he 
refused to share the responsibility for the release of the imprisoned 
members. ' I believe their release,' he said, ' will tend to the encourage- 
ment of crime.' This was truly a damning statement to come from 
the Minister who had been responsible for the government of Ireland, 
and it caused a profound impression. 

Suspicion of a political compact was whispered in dub and 
corridor. Mr. Gladstone denied that there was any arrangement 
between Mr. Pamell and the Government, and when the liberated 
leader, from his place in the House, read the letter which he wrote in 
Kilmainham to Captain O'Shea, the Irish Liberal who had been the 
go-between and which formed the justification of his release, no allusion 
was found to a party understanding. It merely sketched a general 
political programme. Mr. Pamell wrote that if the arrears question 
were settled on satisfactory lines he and his colleagues had every 
confidence that the exertions they would be able to make ' would be 
effective in stopping outrages and intimidation of all kinds.' This, 
however, although suggestive enough, was not all. From the comer 
of the second Liberal bench, to which Mr. Forster had retired, the 



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IRELAND AND EGYPT 63 

ex-Secretary kept hostile watch on the proceedings of his colleagues. 
When he asked if the member for Cork had read the whole letter the 
Conservatives sprang into an expectant attitude, and the Liberals 
looked uneasily at their chief. Mr. Pamell explained that the copy 
which he read had been furnished to him by Captain O'Shea. ' I 
have not the document with me/ pleaded the Captain, but escape was 
impossible. Mr. Forster handed to him a copy of the letter with a 
brusque request to 'read the last paragraph.' When he complied 
with the request the excited House learned that the Irish leader 
wrote in prison that the accomplishment of the programme he had 
sketched would enable the Nationalists to * co-operate cordially for 
the future with the Liberal party in forwarding Liberal principles.' 
This party contract, and the circumstances of its omission, excited 
great prejudice, and the * Kilmainham treaty,' which Mr. Forster 
vehemently denounced as a disgraceful compromise, inflicted perma- 
nent injury on the reputation of the Government. 

Although in a Cabinet of thirteen persons, twelve (as was authorita- 
tivdy stated) were in favour of release, Mr. Chamberlain was held 
chiefly responsible for Mr. Forster's downfall. Mr. Justin McCarthy 
has stated in BrMsh Political Leaders that the whole arrangements of 
the treaty were conducted between the member for Birmingham and 
Mr. Parru^ ; and for his share in the negotiations, whatever it may 
have been, the Radical Minister offered no apology a;nd felt no repent 
ance. On the contrary he boasted of what had been done. In a dis- 
cussion raised by Mr. Balfour, who said the transaction stood alone 
in history in its infamy, Mr. Chamberlain defended the liberation of 
the prisoners on the ground that it would contribute to the peace of 
Ireland. It was, he hdd, the duty of the Government to seek Irish 
opinion wherever they could find it. ' And I cannot help thinking,' 
he added, ' we should have done better in the past if we had sought it 
more frequently.'^ 

Charges of intrigue were persistently brought against Mr. Cham- 
berlain by the Conservatives and these were repeated by the National- 
ists after his own quarrel with them. In The Life of Charles Stewart 
Pamell, Mr. Barry O'Brien says: 'The Irish Secretary seems to 
have been quite sympathetic on the question of arrears, but ... he 
would not bargain with the Irish leader. He would not allow himself 
to be undermined by Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Morley. He looked 

^ In a letter to Captain O'Shea during the Kilmainham negotiations Bir. 
Chamberlain wrote : ' I entirely agree in your view that it is the duty of the 
Government to lose no opportunity of acquainting themselves with representative 
opinion in Ireland, and for that purpose that we ought to welcome su^estion 
and criticism from every quarter, and from aU sections and classes of Irishmen, 
provided that they are animated by a desire for good government, and not a 
blind hatred of aU government whatever.' 



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64 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

upon the whole business as an imderhand proceeding, quite in keeping 
with the attempts which had been constantly made to thwart him 
in his Irish administration, and he resolved to take no part in negotia- 
tions which had been begun over his head.' It was, said Lord Cowper, 
who had been lord-lieutenant, the way the thing was done, rather 
than the thing itself, to which he objected. When Mr. James Lowther, 
however, stated in Yorkshire that Mr. Forster had disloyal colleagues 
who conducted clandestine proceedings the ex-Secretary chivalrously 
contradicted the statement, and declared that he was cognisant of 
the n^otiations. On the subject being debated at the beginning of 
the session of 1883, Mr. Chamberlain was fiercely attacked by Mr. 
Gibson (Lord Ashbourne) and other Conservatives with whom he 
subsequently sat in Lord Salisbury's Cabinet. Sir Herbert Maxwell, a 
future fiscal friend, accused him of making ' profligate promises *, 
Mr. Chaplin charged him]with a ' very fooUsh and painful proceeding ', 
and Lord George Hamilton, who it is to be hoped had forgotten Oliver 
Twist, went so far in poUtical animosity as to say that he suggested 
the character of the Artful Dodger. 

Other expressions were used which showed that in his Radical 
days Mr. Chamberlain was regarded by the Conservatives with feelings 
of rancour not usually excited by politicians. He assured the House 
that any conmiunications addressed to him with reference to the Kil- 
mainham transaction were instantly made known to Mr. Forster. 
Nevertheless, the insinuations and charges against him were firequently 
renewed. At the close of 1883 Mr. Gorst, referring to the period of 
the Kilmainham treaty, expressed the beUef that there existed a sort 
of inner circle within the Cabinet, very much in the same way as an 
inner circle of Invincibles existed within the Land League, and that 
the inner circle of the Cabinet also had its Nmnber One. (* Number 
One ' of the Invincibles was supposed to be the chief director of intimi- 
dation.) A similar idea was expressed by Sir Henry Drummond 
Wolff, who foimd two currents in the Government — one which wished 
to exercise all the powers of the law for the repression of crime, and 
was represented by Lord Hartington, and the other which looked to 
the agencies of outrage as useful allies in passing Liberal measures. 

On Mr. Forster's retirement Mr. Chamberlain would have accepted 
the Chief Secretaryship. The leading members of the Irish party were 
sounded and were in favour of his appointment. The post was, 
however, given to Lord Frederick Cavendish, while E^rl Spencer, 
who was to be the principal ruler at Dublin Castle, succeeded Earl 
Cowper as Viceroy. Lord Frederick was appointed on May 4, and 
two days later he and Mr. Burke, the permanent Under-Secretary, 
were assassinated in Phoenix Park, Dublin. ' One of the very noblest 
hearts in England,* said the Prime Minister, ' has ceased to beat at 



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IRELAND AND EGYPT 65 

the very moment when it was devoted to the service of Ireland/ 
The assassination excited a thrill of horror in every class and party. 
It was regarded, by Conservatives at least, as a sequel to the clemency 
shown by the Government, although evidence proved that the assassins 
had originally intended to take Mr. Forster's Ufe and were unfamiliar 
with Lord Frederick Cavendish. On the day after the hideous event 
Mr. Pamell and Mr.McCarthy visited Sir Charles Dilke and Mr.Chamber- 
lain in order to express their horror at a tragedy which would retard 
the Irish cause, and Mr. McCarthy has recorded that he was greatly 
impressed by the firmness with which the member for Birmingham 
declared that nothing which had happened would prevent him from 
accepting the office of Chief Secretary if the opportunity were offered 
to him. The opportunity did not even now occur. Sir Charles 
Dilke was offered the difficult, if not dangerous post, but declined it 
because it was not accompanied by a seat in the Cabinet and he would 
have had to advocate a policy for which he was not responsible, and 
thereupon Sir George Trevelyan took Lord Frederick Cavendish's 
place. It has been suggested by Lord Eversley, who was a member of 
the Government, that Lord Spencer may have been imwilling to have 
as Chief Secretary one who was so masterful as Mr. Chamberlain.^ 

The policy of the Government, at Mr. Pamell's release, was to 
settle the question of arrears, and to arm the Executive with greater 
powers for the prevention of crime. The Phoenix Park murders 
altered ' only the order ' of their proceedings. Promptly on May ii, 
Sir William Harcourt introduced the Prevention of Crimes Bill, by 
which trial by jury was suspended in certain districts, and a power of 
search was granted. The Pall Mall Gazette, steady in the cause of 
liberty, remarked that when it became law ' Ireland would be under 
an iron hand indeed.* The Arrears Bill was in the sympathetic charge 
of Mr. Gladstone himself, and was in turn attacked by the Conser- 
vatives, Sir Herbert Maxwell dropping into poetry to express their 
view : — 

You may twist, you may alter, this Act as you will ; 
The taint of the Land League will hang to it still. 

Credit to the Government for restoring peace and order was claimed 
by Mr. Chamberlain at the beginning of 1883. He said that success 
was due to the fact that while they had firmly administered the law 
they had also recognized the substantial grievances of the Irish people, 
and had made extraordinary efforts to remove those grievances. He 
was too sanguine. The Irish were neither grateful nor peaceful. 
Their spirit may be gauged by a speech delivered by Mr. Pamell, 
who found it impossible to pursue a pacific policy in view of fresh 
coercion. Alluding to the Crimtes Bill, and looking at Mr. Forster, 

^ Gladstone and Ireland, by Lord Eversley. 



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66 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

-who lounged heavily in a comer seat, he exclaimed with the most 
intense bitterness : ' It would be better to have the Act administered 
by the seasoned politician who is now in disgrace. . . . Call him back 
to his post. Send him to help Lord Spencer in the congenial work of 
the gaUows in Ireland. Send him to look after the secret inquisitions 
-of Dublin Castle. Send him to levy the payment of blood-money. 
Send him to raise the taxes, which an unfortimate and starving pea- 
santry have to pay for crimes not committed by them.' Any one who 
listened to these words, and who noted their effect on the House, might 
have learned how a speaker without eloquence could produce an 
impression rarely attained by the finest orator. Liberals and Con- 
servatives shuddered, while the Nationalists cheered wildly ; Mr. 
Gladstone was grieved and angry ; Mr. Forster glared at his assailant 
with a dour, dogged countenance. If the words hurt him he concealed 
his pain. His chief expression was that of scorn. 

II 

' The only Jingo in the Cabinet ! * Thus Mr. Chamberlain was 
described even in his most Radical days by Mr. Bright, who knew 
him better than the general public ; and Lord Granville, informing 
Lord Spencer in Jime, 1882, that there had been several Cabinets 
about Egypt, noted : ' Bright of course the most peaceable, Chamber- 
lain almost the greatest Jingo.' ^ The Radical leader's political 
education, in the higher sense of the word, as the Standard put it, 
was promoted when he came to deal practically with British interests 
abroad. Egj^t kept step with Ireland in harassing the well-intentioned 
Government, and on a very delicate and difficult theme he was several 
times selected to expound the Ministerial policy. Notwithstanding 
his vision of the weary Titan staggering under ' the too vast orb of her 
fate ' and his animated protests against the extension of our responsi- 
bilities, he acquiesced in the steps taken with the object of restoring 
order in Egj^t and maintaining the safety of the Suez Canal, which 
had been threatened by the movement of Arabi Pacha ; and he parted 
company with his colleague, John Bright, when the veteran resigned 
office on account of the decision to send troops to Egypt and the bom- 
bardment of Alexandria by our fleet. 

An example of how to resign without rancour was given by Mr. 
Bright. In a few dignified sentences he explained that he had with- 
drawn from the Government because he thought there had been a 
manifest violation both of international and of moral law. This was 
severe enough opinion, but he offered it modestly, without any claim 
to special righteousness. Mr. Gladstone, glancing at the old friend 

* Life of Lord Granville, by Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice. 



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IRELAND AND EGYPT 67 

who had gone once more below the gangway, and speaking in a tone of 
affectionate remonstrance, remarked that the difference between them 
was a difference as to the particular application of the divine law in 
this particular case. Mr. Bright 's resignation was to the Government, 
as it was to himself, the occasion of the profoundest pain, but the 
Prime Minister assured him that he carried with him in his retirement 
' the unbroken esteem of his colleagues.' This was the last time the 
two orators were associated together in office. Mr. Bright lived long 
enough to assist in defeating Mr. Gladstone's first Home Rule Bill, but 
in the interval he spoke several times from his independent comer in 
support of his old chief and colleagues. 

The budding Jingoism of Mr. Chamberlain came out in discussion 
on the military operations on July 25, 1882. The Radical leader ex- 
plained that the cause of our intervention was the danger of anarchy. 
' Anarchy in Egypt,' he argued, ' would affect British interests of para- 
moimt importance, and I would say the interests of civilization gener- 
ally.' This was a new note. He struck it lightly and incidentally now, 
although later in his life it swelled into a great theme. Mr. Justin 
McCarthy, who kept watch on Radical developments, remarked that 
he had talked in a strain with which they were a little more famiUar 
in the days of Lord Beaconsfield. Liberal peace-makers also were 
startled. Sir Wilfrid Lawson, for instance, twitted the people of 
Birmingham on shouting peace with Bright, and glory and gun- 
powder with Chamberlain. Mr. Gladstone detected the tendency 
of his Radical colleague's mind. In a letter to the Queen, dated 
December 18, which has been quoted by Mr. Morley, he noted that 
his leanings on foreign policy would be far more acceptable to Her 
Majesty than those of Mr. Bright. 

Mr. Chamberlain himself, however, seemed unconscious of the 
direction in which he was travelling. At a meeting of the National 
Liberal Federation in the month in which the Prime Minister assured 
the Queen as to his ' leanings ' he still repeated doctrines which, in 
later days, he would have described as Little Englandism. It was not 
necessary, he said, that he should waste time in repudiating again the 
idea of annexation, or of a protectorate, or even of an indefinite super- 
vision of the Egyptian government such as foimd favour in some 
quarters. ' We think our possessions,' he added, ' are sufi&ciently 
ample, our duties and responsibilities too onerous and complicated ' ; 
and he dreaded the creation of a new Ireland for ourselves in the East. 
Events proved stronger than phrases. Although the alternate ' slumber 
and rush ' of the Government in Egyptian and Soudanese matters, 
and particularly the delay of measures for the relief of General Gordon 
at Khartoum, alienated large masses of the peojde, Mr. Gladstone and 
his colleagues laid the fotmdation of the present system. Looking back 



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68 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

from 1890, Mr. Chamberlain candidly reviewed the course of events. 
'J admit/ he said, * I was one of those — I think my views were shared 
by the whole Cabinet of Mr. Gladstone — ^who regretted the necessity 
for the occupation of Egypt. I thought that England had so much 
to do, such enormous obligations and responsibilities, that we might 
well escape if we could this addition to them ; and when the occupation 
was forced upon us I looked forward with anxiety to an early, it might 
be even to an immediate evacuation.' In his Imperialist days, having 
seen the results of the occupation, he changed his mind. 



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X 

REFORMER AND FREE TRADER 

AT the Board of Trade Mr. Chamberlain found the work con- 
genial and he took, as he said, ' an ever fresh interest in the. 
many fresh subjects ' with which he was brought into close acquaint- 
ance. The Irish Ofl&ce with its notoriety and its opportunities appealed 
to him in 1882, and if he had obtained it, much besides his own career 
might have been different ; but although the post which he held through- 
out the whole of Mr. Gladstone's second Administration did not by 
any means absorb all his thoughts and energies, he made the most of it. 
He was the business head of a business department, to which he attended 
as diligently as if it were his own factory, personally studying all 
important matters for which he was responsible. Permanent officials 
like a strong, though not a meddlesome Parliamentary chief, and Mr. 
Chamberlain's qualities were properly appreciated, while he himself, 
then, as always, proved a good friend to able and faithful subordinates. 
Business men also were pleased to deal with him, for they admired his 
directness and vigour. He was celebrated for his handling of deputa- 
tions, getting quickly to the point and keeping attention to it. 

For the fiscal policy of the country, on which he subsequently 
changed his course, he bore special responsibility as President of the 
Board of Trade. His speeches during the years that he occupied that 
office formed as effective a defence of the existing system as has ever 
been given. The officials supplied him with the facts of the controversy, 
and they wei^ surprised by his quick mastery of them, and by the vivid 
manner in which he presented the arguments. He exposed the fallacy 
of the new doctrines of Fair Trade and Reciprocity, challenging their 
advocates to point out any distinction between the policy they called 
by these names and ' what the rest of the world consented to call 
Protection ; ' he ridiculed those who were alarmed by the excess of 
imports over exports and said he regarded this, not as a proof of our 
commercial decline, but as a fact which ought to give us the greatest 
satisfaction. ' What,' he asked, ' does this balance represent ? ' 
His answer was turned against himself on many a platform in a new 
century. ' In the first instance,' he said, ' it represents the cost of 
freight, the carrying trade of the world and especially of English 



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70 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

goods having passed almost entirely into English hands. But over 
and above this item it represents nothing more nor less than the profit 
derived by this coimtry from its external trade and the interests from 
its investments abroad during forty years.' Mr. Chamberlain, when 
at the Board of Trade, disposed light-heartedly of the gentlemen 
(among whom he was afterwards numbered) ' who fume and fret when- 
ever the value of what we receive is greater than the value of what we 
give.' ' Is any one,' he demanded, ' bold enough to propose that 
we should put duties upon food ? ' He did not foresee that he himself 
would be bold enough to propose ' these strange remedies,' for then 
he contended that a tax on food would mean a decline in wages : 
it would certainly involve a reduction m their productive value ; it 
would raise the price of every article produced in the United Kingdom, 
and it would indubitably bring about the loss of that gigantic export 
trade which the industry and energy of the country, working under 
conditions of absolute freedom, had been able to create. 

It may be said that even in the early eighties a shadow of doubt 
now and again crossed Mr. Chamberlain's mind. There were qualify- 
ing parentheses in his most strongly-worded speeches, as for instance : 
' I do not like to speak dogmatically.' Nevertheless, on the main issue 
he continued to hold unflinchingly to the doctrines of Cobden. He 
made sport of those who argued that we had not ' real ' Free Trade, 
and he ridiculed the idea, which he subsequently adopted, that Pro- 
tection is a question of intention. ' One-sided Free Trade,' later so 
keenly denounced, he then held to be absolutely the very best for this 
country, and when a Simday paper sneered at Cobden as the author 
of a number of predictions which had been falsified by events he re- 
torted that nearly nineteen centuries had passed and still the doctrines 
of the Christian religion had not received imiversal acceptance. 
While he was a Liberal Minister he extolled cheap imports and pointed 
to trades that were dependent upon the access which the manufacturers 
had to every market in the world for the supply of the raw material. 

No modem champion of Cobdenism has given a more moving picture 
of the effects of Protection than was painted in the eloquent words of 
Mr. Chamberlain, when he showed how it ' starved the poor,' and how 
the country ' was brought by it to the brink of revolution.' He re- 
called the description which was given in the following verses by the 
Com Law rhymer of the sufferings endured by the people, and of the 
buming indignation which these sufferings called forth : — 

They murder'd Hope, they fettered Trade, 
The clouds to blood, the sun to shade, 
And every good that God had made 
They turned to bane and mockery. 



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REFORMER AND FREE TRADER yz 

They knew no interest but their own. 

They shook the State, they shook the Throne. 

O years of crime I The great and true. 
The nobly wise — ^are still the few — 
Now bid Truth grow where Falsehood grew. 
And plant it for eternity. 

The last verse he rendered thus : — 

O years of crime ! The great and true. 
The nobly wise — now, not the few — 
Bid Freedom grow where Com Laws grew. 
And plant it for eternity. 

That, as Mr. Chamberlain said, was not a retrospect which would be- 
favourable to any party or any statesman who would have the au- 
dacity to propose that we should go back to evil times ! 

Bills useful to the community were promoted by the Radical Presi- 
dent of the Board of Trade. The adoption of electric lighting hy 
mimicipalities was simplified in 1882 ; and in 1883 he carried through 
the new Grand Committees a bill to prevent fraudulent Uquidations, 
and a Patents Bill framed in the interests of poor inventors. His- 
Parliamentary reputation was considerably increased by his skill in 
piloting, especially, the former measure ; he proved himself a tactful 
manager of his fellow-members. It was the subject of one of the 
earliest cartoons which Tenniel devoted to him in Punch, the artist 
depicting him spoiling the spoilers. A very acrimonious attack was, 
however, made upon him in 1884, with reference to the Bankruptcy^ 
Act, his political opponents maintaining that posts under it were 
given as rewards to partisans. Although he assured the House that 
he did not know the political opinions of the great majority of the 
' officials whom he had appointed, Sir Richard Cross and Sir Hardinge 
Giffard (the future Lord Chancellor, Halsbury) pressed for inquiry, 
and Mr. Healy, who was then on friendly terms with Mr. Chamberlain,, 
expressed the opinion that the attack was levelled at him because he 
was the spokesman of the Radical party. 

The most ambitious piece of legislation which he ever undertook 
was the Merchant Shipping Bill. Early in his official career, influenced 
by the agitation raised by Mr. PlimsoU, he moved for the appointment 
of a Select Committee to inquire into the losses of British ships. He 
investigated the subject for several years, and not only found that 
there was a terrible loss of life but formed the conviction that much 
of this was preventable and that the conditions of trade were such as. 
to tend to the loss. Severe criticism was passed on the manner in 
which he sought a remedy. His own account of it showed that at any 
rate he was not rash. ' I sought,' he said, ' in the first instance the 
assistance of the shipowners — and of the best shipowners in the trader 



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7a JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

— ^in the hope that they would co-operate with me in seeking a reform. 
I saw scores of them ; I saw the underwriters ; I saw shipmasters ; 
I saw everybody who was willing and able to give me any infonnation 
in reference to the matter. But when I asked for public co-operation 
I am sorry to say I failed in obtaining it.' 

Never did he show more earnestness than in his endeavour to pass 
the Merchant Shipping Bill in 1884. It justified the Punch cartoon 
on ' The Cherub/ and the lines : — 

There's a sweet little Chamberlain sits up aloft. 
To keep watch over the life of poor Jack. 

On the motion for the second reading on May 19, he held the atten- 
tion of the House for three hours and three quarters. Describing his 
speech, Mr. Samuel Smith, M.P., in My Life Work, SQys : ' He im- 
pressed us with his enormous ability. One thing I noticed : he did 
not need to take a sip of water during that long delivery — ^a wonder- 
ful sign of physical strength, and also of vocal power.' Although 
speaking in a studiously subdued tone he did not withdraw the charges 
he had made against the shipowners, but tmdertook to substantiate 
them, and indeed added new cotmts to the indictment, so that his 
speech increased the exasperation with which his inquiries had been 
followed. The basis of his action was the belief that there was un- 
necessary loss of life in the mercantile marine, and he contended that 
the main causes were under-manning, overloading and over-insur- 
ance. What he objected to, he said, was gambling in human life. 
' I proposed to make it impossible for any man to make a profit by 
the loss of his ship, and of the crew that sailed in her. I proposed to 
make it impossible for any man to contract himself out of the liability 
for the negligence of himself or the persons whom he employed. I 
proposed that the Employers' Liability Act should also be applied 
to the sea service.' 

The bill and the speech were fiercely denoimced, and the Minister 
was accused of wanton interference with trade interests. Mr. David 
Maclver, a shipowner, who in other circumstances became one of his 
admirers, scolded Mr. Chamberlain for making personal and libellous 
attacks on an honourable class, and Mr. Edward Stanhope, a lead- 
ing Conservative, vehemently accused him of recklessness, while Lord 
Salisbury denounced him for having brought a horrible and fantastic 
charge against the shipowners. Even Mr. Samuel Smith, a friendly 
politician, records that the bill ' excited great repugnance among 
shipowners generally. Many of them were high-minded men, and 
resented the implied slight on their honour. They refused to beheve 
in the piratical shipsinkers.' Throughout the coimtry the owners 
«used a powerful resistance. Mr. Chamberlain fought his case with 



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REFORMER AND FREE TRADER 73 

boldness and ability, and among large classes excited very deep sym- 
pathy. The opposition to the bill, however, proved relentless, and, 
the Govenmient beset by other difficulties, were unable to proceed 
with it. Fortimately its author's efforts were not altogether wasted. 
A Royal Conmiission was appointed to inquire into the whole subject, 
and several measures which he subsequently inspired or suggested 
greatly increased the safety of the merchant service. 

In consequence of his rebuff in 1884 Mr. Chamberlain contem- 
plated the plan of operation which he adopted about twenty years 
later in the case of fiscal reform. He expressed his desire to resign 
office, and fight out the shipping question on the public platform. 
Mr. Gladstone, however, could not at that period dispense with his 
services. The franchise agitation had been raised, and in deference 
to his leader's judgment, he withdrew his resignation so that he might 
take part in the struggle for reform. Into that struggle he carried 
the passion which had been baffled in the lesser controversy. 



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XI 

TWO DEMOCRATS 

' ^T^HAT Birmingham demagogue ' was the scornful title by which 
J- in the early years of his official life Mr. Chamberlain was 
described by the plain, blunt Tory, Sir Richard Cross. The daring 
independence with which he started a Radical propaganda caused 
alarm in the highest quarters, and might have led to a breach in the 
Government had not he and Mr. Gladstone been at the time necessary 
to one another. His praise of his chief was occasionally very warm. 
In a paneg3^c uttered when Mr. Gladstone was thinking of resigning 
on account of ill-health, Mr. Chamberlain said on January i6, 1883, 
that ' his eloquence, his ability, and his experience were part of 
the national glory, and the vast majority of men would feel that his 
retirement from the scene upon which he had played so illustrious 
a part would be an incalculable misfortune for his country,' and he 
applied to him the words which ' the poet wrote concerning the great- 
est statesman of the preceding century.' ^ 

In him, Demosthenes was heard again. 
Liberty taught him her Athenian strain ; 
She clothed him with authority and awe, 
Spoke from his lips, and in his looks gave law. 

The Prime Minister dealt patiently with Mr. Chamberlain, not 
only because he himself was magnanimous but also because his col- 
league had influence over the advanced section of the party and would 
be more dangerous out of than in the Cabinet. Yet he was sorely 
tried by the attitude and tone which his subordinate began to assume 
in the third year of his administration. The 'Birmingham dema- 
gogue ' then defiantly bounded forward as the exponent of more 
advanced views than those entertained by the Cabinet, and opened 
that very bitter personal duel with the Marquis of Salisbury which 
lasted till the combatants arranged a truce preliminary to an alliance. 

One of his most notorious and significant gibes was used as a retort 
to the Marquis, who, since Lord Beaconsfield's death in 1881, had 
been the most influential of the Conservative leaders. Lord Salis- 
bury invaded the Midland stronghold on March 28, 1883, and directed 
a sharp assault on its leader. Two days later Mr. Chamberlain, in a 

* Cowper on Chatham. 
74 



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TWO DEMOCRATS 75 

^ / vivacious reply, described him as the spokesman of a class ' who toil 
^ not neither do they spin.'^ Alluding to the warUke policy which 
his assailant advocated, he quoted the Shakespearian sally : ' See 
what a desperate homicide this Salisbury is ! ' and on another theme 
he attributed to him a ' light and airy arithmetic which is peculiarly 
his own.' The allusion by a Minister of the Crown to those ' who 
toil not neither do they spin ' has never been forgotten. At the time 
the gibe was uttered it was received with tremendous delight by the 
ultra-Radical classes, and by all who expected or desired a social 
revolution. Here was a levelling leader after their heart ! On the 
other hand, Whigs as well as Conservatives, and the official classes 
generally, were shocked and offended. They regarded Mr. Chamber- 
lain as a sort of traitor to the cause in which Ministers of the Crown, 
ex-Ministers and future Ministers were associated. Undaunted by 
reproof, and unheeding those who tried to pull him back, he attended 
a celebration in honour of John Bright at Bingley Hall on Jime 13, 
and dared to sketch a new progranune for the Liberal party, includ- 
ing disestabUshment, extension of the suffrage, equal electoral dis- 
tricts, and payment of members. The independence which he thus 
displayed, rather than the proposals themselves, produced nunbling 
and grumbling in high places. 

The Court was disturbed, Whigs were irritated, and Mr. Gladstone 
confessed his ' deep regret.' Attention being called in the House 
of Lords to so unusual a speech, the Government were asked if it 
represented their policy. Lord Granville, as skilful a fencer as ever 
stood at the table of the peers, gave a chaffing reply. With acid sar- 
casm the Marquis of Salisbury affected to find a dual personality in 
his antagonist. There was the Mr. Chamberlain who represented 
Birmingham, and there was the Mr. Chamberlain who was a member 
of the Cabinet. The Marquis compared this dual figure to the Chan- 
cellor in lolafUhe, who was disposed to conmiit himself for contempt 
of court because he allowed himself to make love to a ward in Chan- 
cery without obtaining his own consent. In the House of Commons 
also the Government were challenged with reference to the speech, and 
Mr. Gladstone drily declared that Mr. Chamberlain had expressed 
merely his own opinions. These he continued to declare with grow- 
ing audacity. 

Tennid in a Punch cartoon depicted him as a daring duckling. 
While he swims boldly away on the pond of Radicalism, the ' grand 
old hen ' gazes in wonder and alarm at the duckling she has hatched 
and the Whig brood watch on the brink with expressions of varied 
significance. ' Come back ! come back 1 ' the old hen clucks. 

^ This gibe was uttered by Mr. Chamberlain on the occasion of an address 
by Lord Rosebery to the Birmingham Junior Liberal Association. 



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76 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Oh, where is he going, and what will he do ? 

And will he to warning give ear and turn back ? 
Or will he prove deaf to the hullaballoo, 
And make his own choice between cackle and quack ? 
Cluckitty-cluck 
Audacious young duck 1 
Is he off prematurely to try his own luck ? 

On the very day — ^the first of July — ^Mr. Gladstone was writ- 
ing to a colleague complaining of the license that Mr. Chamberlain 
took and of his failure to recognize that he was ' a member of a 
body/ gleeful allusions were made to the ' daring duckling ' at the 
Cobden Club dinner, at Greenwich, at which the Radical Minister 
presided. The Free Traders were delighted to learn that his audacity 
had been imabated by the snubs administered to him on account of 
his Bingley Hall performance. He was rapturously applauded, and 
the high-spirited speech which he delivered awoke enthusiasm in a 
Club by which, twenty years later he was hated beyond any other 
man, and which he jeered at more bitterly than he ever jeered at the 
Carlton. His popularity took a marvellous leap. He excited the 
most dazzling political visions in the minds of Radicals, while he be- 
came more than ever the bogey man in the Tory nightmare. 

The most vigorous and persistent attacks upon Mr. Chamberlain 
proceeded from the Fourth Party, which was foimded in 1880. It 
consisted, as a rule, of four exceedingly clever men who sat on the 
front bench below the Opposition gangway, and played an indepen- 
dent role on the Parliamentary stage. Their independence consisted, 
not in voting now with one side and now with another, but rather 
seizing opportunities of debate which were neglected by the official 
leaders of the Opposition, and in pressing home the attack by guerilla 
methods, from which ex-Ministers naturally shrank. Mr. Balfour, 
whom Lord Randolph Churchill used to call Postlethwaite, was re- 
strained by his relationship with Lord Salisbury and was the least 
active and attached member of the party. He sat to ' Spy ' of Vanity 
Fair for the well-known cartoon of the group, but the tie which bound 
him to it was comparatively slender. Even in those early days he 
adopted the habit of sprawling on his back, with his long legs thrust 
forward, and often he seemed as if lost in contemplation of his hand- 
kerchief and gaiters, while Sir Henry Drummond Wolff fidgeted 
on the edge of the bench, Mr. Gorst plucked his beard and studied 
the leaders above the gangway with cold, quizzing eyes, and Lord 
Randolph Churchill stood at the comer with right foot propped for- 
ward, badgering the Ministers, or flouting the ' old gang ' of Conser- 
vative statesmen. During a discussion in 1880 when a member re- 
marked that there were two great parties in the State, Mr. Parnell 
claimed that there were three and Lord Randolph Churchill cried 



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TWO DEMOCRATS 77 

' Four.' The exclamation provoked jeering laughter, and when a 
Nationalist nicknamed the noble lord and his friends the Fourth Party, 
few persons imagined that it would occupy a considerable place in 
history. 

Lord Randolph was the ' Randy ' of the early eighties. News- 
paper writers described him as ' an aspiring youth,' as ' youthful but 
impertinent,' as a member possessing ' a puerile love of mischief.' 
Cartoonists depicted him as Puck, as a down or a dog, as a midget 
with Disraeli's curl or Gladstone's collar, as a Lilliputian tying threads 
round the giant Salisbury, a bumptious boy taking the lead at the 
hunt on a pony, a rude scholar irritating gentle Dame Northcote 
and snatching the lesson book out of her hand. He was * the little 
child from Woodstock ' (the pocket borough which he represented), 
and the source of parliamentary gaiety was increased when Mr. John 
Bright 's brother, Jacob, alluded to him as ' the member for Wood- 
cock.' Sir William Harcourt was described playing with Lord 
Randolph as if he were a kitten, and Mr. Gladstone was reproached 
with paying him too much attention. One can recall him standing 
at his familiar comer, curling his moustache, or grasping his waist 
with his hands, and cocking up his patent leather boot on the heel. 
He was a dandy in those days, with frock-coat, bluish trousers, tie 
in a large bow and coloured shirt cuffs. Sometimes, in a pause in 
his vivacious speech, he would glance at the ring on his finger, which 
passed to his son. Above the gangway sat Sir Stafford Northcote, 
with his hands timidly hidden in the sleeves of his coat, and on the 
other side of the table was the impetuous Prime Minister, very impa- 
tient under the stings of one whom, in a moment of anger, he likened 
to an insect. 

In spite of snubs from Conservative leaders, and denunciations 
from Liberal statesmen, Lord Randolph grew in boldness as well as 
in skill and power, until at last he attracted more attention than any 
member of Parliament except the Prime Minister himself, and was 
' ne'er seen but wondered at.' His heavy moustache, curled up at 
the ends, became as familiar as Mr. Gladstone's high collars, or Mr. 
Chamberlain's eye-glass. By dint of much practice he developed 
into a forcible, though not a finished speaker. He piled up big words 
into picturesque, extravagant phrases, and was a hard but not a vin- 
dictive hitter. His success in the House of Conmions was due in 
large measure to his instinct for tactics, and his great popularity 
among Conservatives in the coimtry was the result of the courage and 
vivacity of his attacks on Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Chamberlain. A 
sort of feUow-feeling with the independent Tory enabled the Radical 
Minister to set a true estimate on his character. ' I believe,' he re- 
marked, ' the noble lord always says what he means and means what 



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78 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

he says: and I find that what he says to-day his leaders say to- 
morrow.' They met in friendly manner at private houses. Like Sir 
William Harconrt and Sir Charles Dilke, Mr. Chamberlain was often 
at Lord Randolph Churchill's, and he had the honour to dine with 
the Fourth Party, — an event which greatly shocked the Duke of 
Marlborough, ' who did not understand how his son could cultivate 
social relations with a person of such pernicious opinions.' This 
friendship, however, did not interfere with political warfare. 

Personal abuse of Mr. Chamberlain was plentiful in the years when 
he was the hope of the Radicals. His gibe at those * who toil not 
neither do they spin ' provoked many retorts of a quality which was 
at any rate not better than that of his own taimt. Lord Randolph 
Churchill, for instance, sneered at the critic of peers for basking in the 
smiles of the Earl of Durham at Newcastle, and mockingly described 
him as ' this stern patriot ; this rigid moralist ; this unbending 
censor — ^the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain.' ' Humbug of hum- 
bugs,' cried the Tory democrat, ' all is humbug ! ' 

Recrimination of a virulent sort was indulged in very freely in 
a pamphlet by Mr. W. T. Marriott, Q.C., a member of Parliament who 
left the Liberal party long before Mr. Chamberlain and who had 
attacked his conduct as a manufacturer. 'Were Mr. Chamberlain 
himself an anchorite,' wrote Mr. Marriott, ' or a monk living on plain 
fare, and wearing mean apparel, and distributing his goods to the 
poor, nobody would condemn the jeremiads he preaches against wealth 
and the wealthy, however useless they might consider them. But 
for one who is clothed in purple and fine linen, and who fares simiptu- 
ously every day, to denounce purple, fine linen and sumptuous fare 
strikes people as somewhat incongruous.' The polite pamphleteer, 
who was honoured by the Tories when they obtained office, referred 
in the same tone to Mr. Chamberlain's princely income, his stately 
luxurious mansion, and the flower to the cultivation of which he de- 
voted annually sums of money sufficient to clothe, house and feed 
comfortably a score of his poorer neighbours I 

An extravaganza entitled ' Mr. Daniel Creedy, M.P.,' published 
in 1884, was intended as a skit on Mr. Chamb^lain. Creedy is a 
screw manufactiu'er, and the writer, describing how he lost his nose, 
declares that although a Radical gentleman he was not radically a 
gentleman. He was ' conscious that he carried about with him and 
betrayed in the presence of his social betters a soup^on of the Great 
Unwashed, whence he had issued more or less remotely, which no 
amount of gilding would cover. As he sat in his chair by himself, 
as he walked in the lobby of the House of Commons, as he conversed 
with a lady at a dinner, it was there — ^haunting but never humbling him.' 
Abuse of this sort was applauded by the Conservatives who in a few 
years hailed the member for Birmingham as a saviour of the coimtry. 



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XII 

LORDS AND RIOTS 

Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in 
Bear't that the opposer may beware of thee. 

ALTHOUGH this was the spirit in which Mr. Gladstone approached 
the House of Lords with the measure for the extension of house- 
hold suffrage to the counties, it did not represent Mr. Chamberlain's 
temper. The Radical leader eagerly and hastily adopted a threatening 
tone. As early as December 4, 1883, alluding to the expectation that 
the peers would try to force a dissolution on the Franchise Bill, which 
was to be the main legislative business of the following year, he chal- 
lenged them with taimts. ' I am inclined,' he said, ' to hope, in the 
words of the beautiful Church Litany, which is read every Sunday, 
that the nobility may be endued with grace, wisdom and understanding. 
I trust that the House of Lords will have the wisdom and the under- 
standing to appreciate the justice of the claim which will be preferred 
to them, and I hope that Lord Salisbury will have the grace to yield 
without provoking a conflict in which he cannot possibly be victorious.' 
A fortnight later he was still more stinging. ' As to the House of 
Lords,' he remarked, ' if that august assembly is afraid of the Radical 
flood there is one very simple plan by which it may save itself from 
all possible injury. Let it clear out of the way, then the popular 
movement will do it no harm at all.' This language, although ap- 
plauded by Radicals throughout the country, was not calculated to 
smooth the passage of reform. 

A crisis occurred in the Cabinet at the end of 1883, when procedure 
was considered. Lord Hartington taking the line which was afterwards 
followed by the Conservatives, and desiring that the extension of the 
suffrage should be accompanied by a redistribution of seats. Eventu- 
ally it was decided as the Government policy that redistribution should 
follow as rapidly as possible, but friction was for a time increased by 
Mr. Chamberlain's too great frankness. ' I have intimated to Hart- 
ington ' — Lord Granville wrote Mr. Gladstone — ' my regret at indivi- 
dual members of the Cabinet publicly announcing their opinions on 
matters which are to be discussed there.' ^ 

* Life of Lord Grenville. 
79 



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8o JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

In the House of Commons, Mr. Chamberlain seemed more 
anxious to heat the furnace of feeling than to show consideration for 
timid and halting folk. The action of the Opposition, in meeting the 
Franchise Bill with an amendment declining to proceed with it until 
there was also submitted a scheme of redistribution, gave him an 
opportunity for the sort of speech in which he excelled. He twitted 
the Conservatives on being ' willing to wound and yet afraid to strike/ 
and he excited emotion by his references to those from whom the vote 
was being withheld. One stirring passage caused a special conmiotion. 
* What/ said the orator, ' has happened in consequence of the agricul- 
tural labourers not having a voice in this House ? They have been 
robbed of their land.' (Protests, and cries of ' Withdraw.') ' I repeat 
that they have been robbed of their land. They have been robbed of 
their rights in the commons. They have been robbed of their open 
spaces. ... It may be said that those proceedings which I have 
characterized in language not a whit too strong have now come to an 
end. Not a bit of it ; they are going on still.' ' The agricultural 
labourers,' he added vehemently, ' are still being robbed.' 

This heightening of the controversy again embarrassed Mr. Glad- 
stone, who was chiefly concerned to secure the passing of his bill, and it 
caused annoyance to Lord Hartington and the other moderate Liberals. 
Lord George Hamilton expressed a feeling which was not confined to 
Conservatives, when he said he had never listened to * a more ill- 
conditioned speech,' and Sir Robert Peel described it as ' most mis- 
chievous and most inflammatory,' and as a direct appeal to mob 
violence. According to another critic Mr. Chamberlain posed as the 
Admirable Crichton of all the revolutionary classes. 

The controversy became still more animated when the Franchise 
Bill was sent in the siunmer of 1884 to the Upper House. It had been 
for four months before the Commons, but the Lords lost no time in 
dealing with it, and they rejected it for a session by passing an 
amendment such as had been moved by the Conservatives in the 
representative Chamber. 

In the campaign which followed the obstructive action of the peers, 
Mr. Chamberlain was the most forward, aggressive leader. He spoke 
with impatience of the counsels of calmness which came from the 
Whigs. Conspicuous among these was Mr. Goschen, whose opposition 
to the extension of the county franchise had kept him out of the 
Government, who had declined the Viceroyalty of India, the embassy 
at Constantinople, the War Secretaryship and the Speakership, but 
who in a special mission to Turkey had done great service for the State, 
and whose authority in the Liberal party had been increased by his 
conduct at a Parliamentary crisis produced by the Soudanese imbroglio. 
Although sympathizing with much of the Conservative criticism he had 



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LORDS AND RIOTS 8r 

refused to give Lord Salisbury ' a blank cheque/ and thus he assisted 
to prolong the life of the Government. Now he was listened to by a 
large section of the country with respect when he preached moderation. . 
Mr. Chamberlain, however, sneered at his counsel. ' It reminds 
me/ he said, ' of the recommendations which were published 
some time ago in the Philadelphia Ledger addressed to those whose 
garments might unfortunately catch fire, one of which wound up with 
the earnest injimction to any lady who should find herself involved in 
flames to keep herself as cool as possible.' 

Most lively encounters took place between Lord Salisbury and 
Mr. Chamberlain. The antagonists were well-matched in caustic 
and incisive speech. Neither was afraid of words and neither was 
afraid of the other. A monster demonstration held in London on a 
summer day in favour of the Franchise Bill provoked the injudicious 
jeers of the Tory leader. He remarked that the Government instead 
of going to the polls took the public opinion of the streets ; they called 
for processions ; they attempted legi^ation by picnic. The voice thus 
heard was ' a counterfeit voice manufactured by the Caucus.' This 
was quite in the Salisbury vein, and the master of the Caucus was 
equally characteristic in his prompt reply at the Devonshire Club. 
To ' legislation by picnic ' he retorted with a gibe at ' obstruction by 
privilege,' and he imputed to Lord Salisbury * an air of patrician arro- 
gance.' Behind his ' flimsy and disingenuous pretexts ' Mr. Chamber- 
lain detected hate of the franchise, and he declared that the marquis 
was in this respect ' only the true representative of the inveterate 
prejudices of his party.' 

The language of the chief controversialists was still angrier in the 
autumn, and included rather unseemly allusions to broken heads. 
Lord Salisbury imagined Mr. Chamberlain leading a procession from 
Birmingham, and wished him a broken head for his pains. The Radi- 
cal replied that he was not afraid of ' my Lord Salisbury nor of his 
retainers,' and offered to lead a procession on the condition that his 
adversary should conduct the opposing column. ' In that case,' he 
added, ' if my head is broken it will be broken in very good company.' 
This was a rather unusual style of controversy to be carried on by 
statesmen, but probably when the combatants imited in a common 
cause they laughed at the old feud. 

Deep emotions were stirred by the attacks on the House of Lords 
delivered during this crisis by the member for Birmingham, and fears 
were felt for the permanence of an institution which he subsequently 
called to his assistance. He spoke exultantly of the issue, which, as he 
represented, had been raised by Lord Salisbury : ' the issue between 
the peers and the people ; between the privileges of the few and the 
rights of the many,' and he declared that the Upper House had always 

6 



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82 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

been the ready tool of the party of obstruction and of prejudice. ' Dur- 
ing the last hundred years it has never/ he said, ' contributed one iota 
to public liberty or public freedom, or done anything to advance the 
common weal, and during that time it has protected every abuse and 
sheltered every privilege. It has denied justice and delayed reform. 
It is irresponsible without independence, obstinate without courage, 
arbitrary without judgment, and arrogant without knowledge.' ^ In a 
merry mood he added, in words which the Birmingham Tory paper 
had sarcastically applied to the Commons on his own election to 
Parliament : — 

Alas, unconscious of their doom 

The little victims play ; 
No thought have they of ills to come 

No care beyond to-day. 

Alas, it was Mr. Chamberlain who was unconscious of his doom ! Blind 
to the future — on which no living man can look — ^he spent the autunm 
of 1884 exposing the peers to the wrath of the people, and heaping 
demmciation on their Conservative leader. He seemed not only ready 
but anxious for a conflict between the two Houses. His language was 
conspicuously different in tone from Lord Hartington's. As Lord 
Salisbury sneeringly remarked. Lord Hartington had ' a natural but 
temporary disinclination to abolish his own father.' 

' Compromise,' a word which even Mr. Gladstone at the moment 
did not like, was breathed by the leader of the Whig section of his 
Cabinet, but at Hanley in a very vehement speech on October 7, Mr. 
Chamberlain flouted Lord Salisbury's ' arrogant proposals ' for the 
simultaneous passing of franchise and redistribution, and refused to 
have any transactions with * a statesman whose attitude was so over- 
bearing.' Next day his chief wrote to him a kindly and conciliatory 
letter counselling * reserve.' Lord Salisbury declared that his language 
was ' as discreditable to the Minister who uttered it as to the Ministers 
who remained his colleagues ' ; Lord Randolph Churchill sneered at him 
as a pinchbeck Robespierre, and Mr. Balfour was severe in condem- 
nation of his strictures upon members of the House of Lords, saying 
ihat ' they consisted in about equal measure of bad history, bad logic 
and bad taste,' and maintaining that the riots which occurred at Aston 
Park ' naturally resulted ' from his speech at Hanley. 

These strictures on the peers culminated in a famous deliverance 
at Denbigh on October 20. It seemed at the time as if this deliver- 
ance definitely committed Mr. Chamberlain to a movement for the 

* Attention was called to this attack by Viscount Newport in the House of 
Commons, but each point in the quoted passage was cheered by the Radicals, 
and the Prime Minister refused to be brought to account for every word spoken 
by a colleague. 



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LORDS AND RIOTS 83 

abolition of the hereditary principle in the Legislature, and Radicals 
have looked back upon it with admiration as one of the ablest and 
most finely-phrased indictments of the Upper House. On many an 
occasion, either in sympathy or in sarcasm, they have quoted the 
statement of the lost leader that ' the chronicles of the House of Lords 
are one long record of concessions delayed until they have lost their 
grace, of rights denied imtil extorted from their fears.' And Non- 
conformists, with feelings of sadness and anger, have recalled how 
they cheered and honoured — aye ! and loved the man who said that 
as a Dissenter he had an account to settle with the House of Lords, 
and would not forget the reckoning. ' The cup is nearly full,' he 
exclaimed, ' the career of high-handed wrong is coming to an end ! ' 

The cup of wrath was not filled. Moderate counsels prevailed in the 
Conservative party. Negotiations between leaders on the two sides 
were promoted by the Queen, with of course the approval of the Prime 
Minister, and after much diplomacy they arrived at an arrangement. 
The scheme of redistribution was settled in a friendly manner between 
representatives of the Government and of the Opposition, and the 
Franchise Bill, reintroduced in an autimin session, was passed by the 
peers and became law in December. If the Lords had proved obdurate 
Parliamentary history would have followed a different course from 
that which it took during the next twenty years. Instead of the 
Liberal party being rent in twain by Home Rule it might have united 
under Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Chamberlain in an attack on the Upper 
House, and the flood-gates would have been opened to a rush of 
Radicalism. 

Reference has been made to the Aston Park riots. These were 
memorable not only for the encoimter by which they were followed 
in the House of Commons, but also for their own ferocity. They have 
been described by a prominent Midland politician as ' the last appeals 
of the bludgeon as a political factor in England.' ^ A demonstration 
in support of the peers was arranged to be held at Aston Park, Birming- 
ham, on October 13, and speeches were to be delivered by Sir Stafford 
Northcote and Lord Randolph Churchill. Local Radicals objected to 
a meeting, to which Tories from the surrounding districts were to be 
conveyed by special trains, being represented as an expression of 
Birmingham opinion ; tickets of admission were forged, thousands of 
persons assembled for a counter-demonstration, scaled the wall and 
forced their way into the grounds ; the meeting place was stormed, 
the platform was captured and the intending speakers were exposed 
to rough treatment and forced to withdraw. Although Sir Stafford 
Northcote expressed the good-natured opinion that the proceeding was 
mainly horse-play, some of his friends were afraid at the time that he 
* Reminiscences of a Country Politician, by John A. Bridges. 



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84 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

might be injured. Mr. Chamberlain was held responsible by opponents 
for the disgraceful outbreak. It was contended not only that his 
speeches incited the Radicals to make the counter demonstration, 
but that it was organized by his satellites and that he knew of its 
object beforehand and might have prevented it by the exercise of his 
influence. General sympathy with Sir Stafford Northcote was ex- 
pressed, and Lady Randolph Churchill in her Reminiscences testifies 
to her husband's ' righteous indignation at such treatment, particu- 
larly from a friend, even though a political opponent.' 

The Parliamentary duel on the subject between the President of 
the Board of Trade and Lord Randolph was anticipated with immense 
interest. There was some manoeuvring as to the order of combat. 
On October 23 Sir Henry Drummond Wolff approached the subject 
and accused Mr. Chamberlain of complicity with the outrages. Lord 
Randolph waited in vain for the adversary's defence. Next day 
he demanded an answer, but the Birmingham fighter still reserved 
his speech, remarking that Sir Henry Drummond Wolff appeared 
to be acting as jackal to the leader of the Fourth Party. Although 
a hubbub was caused by the .use of the term ' jackal,' Mr. Chamber- 
lain did not relinquish any advantage in position. He waited for 
the charge of his chief assailant. 

At last Lord Randolph, who boasted that he would draw the 
badger, submitted on the 30th a motion practically accusing the 
Radical leader of having incited to riot and disorder. He asserted 
that tickets had been forged by Liberals, that ladders had been pro- 
vided and gangs of roughs organized by the Caucus. His indictment 
appeared to be very damaging. The member for Birmingham, 
however, was in his element. He replied in one of the most adroit 
and spirited speeches which he had ever delivered. For his defence 
he read a number of affidavits by roughs who were said to have been 
engaged by a Conservative ofl&dal to turn out Liberals from the 
meeting, and he insisted that it was their violence which provoked 
the outbreak. Mr. Churchill in the biography of his father mentions 
that as Mr. Chamberlain's speech was drawing to a close Lord Ran- 
dolph leaned across the gangway and asked Sir Michael Hicks-Beach 
if he would reply, but Sir Michael, much impressed by the Radical 
Minister's arguments, declined. The spirits of the Conservatives, 
however, were revived by personal attacks upon him and by the argu- 
ments of Sir Hardinge Giffard, who threw doubt upon the authenticity 
of the quoted documents in which there was ' suspicious identity of 
language.' 

Dislike of Mr. Chamberlain was expressed with special bitterness 
in a strange maiden speech by Mr. P. A. Muntz (afterwards Sir Philip) 
who had been a Liberal but had gone over to the Conservatives an4 



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LORDS AND RIOTS 85 

was elected for a constituency within the Birmingham sphere of 
influence. Not foreseeing that they would again be on the same 
side Mr. Muntz conmiented on the audacity of the Radical leader 
and charged him with irregular practices. The conduct of the mob 
was, he said, the result of a council of war held by Mr. Chamberlain 
and the Caucus, ' which dared not lift a finger without his know- 
ledge.' He taunted him as a declared Republican with having ac- 
cepted office under the Crown and as a servant of the Constitution 
with making attacks on it, ' on every occasion and in every conceivable 
way.' Mr. Chaplin, in a prophecy at which the Radicals laughed 
derisively, predicted that the day would come when Mr. Chamberlain 
would regret that he had spoken with such violence of the House 
of Lords. His speeches, according to this grieved censor, had been 
animated by the desire to inflict irreparable injury on a great institu- 
tion. Mr. Arthur Balfour, in turn, remarked that certain constituen- 
cies were ' not too fastidious,' and that if the speech which he had 
made at Hanley were delivered in Ireland he would have had to sleep 
on a plank bed and live on prison cocoa. 

No gibes or personal censures, however, undid the effect of his 
brilliant defence. Mr. Gladstone cheered and enjoyed ' an extremely 
powerful ' speech, and the whole Liberal party were delighted with 
its skill and success. Lord Randolph could not be congratulated 
upon his badger-drawing. An eminent naturalist, as a proud Jfladical 
reminded the House, had said that the badger was an inoffensive 
animal provided by nature for its own defence with very powerful 
claws. Such claws were effectively used on this occasion. The case 
of the riots was carried into the courts and a man whose affidavit 
had been quoted was charged with criminal libel and sentenced to six 
weeks' imprisonment, the judge moralizing on the result of political 
rancour, and counsel for the prosecution describing the offender as a 
poor, ignorant fellow who had been made a tool. So far, however, 
as Parliament was concerned Mr. Chamberlain's victory was complete, 
and the fear of Birmingham and its fighting member was increased. 
To draw that fighter became for twenty years the most hazardous 
sport at St. Stephen's. He was, as Mr. Morley said, 'the wariest, 
toughest, and most powerful badger ever known.' 

As we learn from the biography of Lord Randolph, a total breach 
in his strange friendship with the Radical minister was caused by the 
quarrel over the riots. Radical democrat and Tory democrat no 
longer saluted one another, and such correspondence as was necessary 
was conducted with frigid formality. Mr. Churchill gives in his 
brilliant book a letter, dated October 28, 1884, in which ' Mr. Chamber- 
lain presents his compliments to Lord R. Churchill.' When, however, 
the President of the Board of Trade heard a month later that Lord 



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86 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Randolph was about to start for a holiday in India on account of 
his health, he wrote to ' My dear ChurchiU/ expressing very kindly 
wishes and describing himself sans rancune. To this generoiis letter 
his old friend replied in the most hearty terms. ' I had always hoped/ 
wrote Lord Randolph, ' that the friendship which existed between 
us and which for my part I most highly valued, might at all times 
be altogether unaffected by any parliamentary conflicts, however brisk 
and even sharp the latter might be.'^ 

The Fourth Party, which in its later career lost the assistance of 
Mr. Balfour, was dissolved in the confusion of the Franchise Bill 
controversy, when its leader came to an understanding with the 
Marquis of Salisbury and dined at the Cecil mansion in Arlington 
Street. * The two men,' says Mr. Churchill, ' met as chiefs on almost 
equal terms.' In a Punch cartoon Mr. Linley Samboume treated 
the event as a mariage it convenance, after Orchardson's famous 
picture. Lord Randolph sitting gloomily at one end of the table 
and Butler Northcote pouring wine into Lord Salisbury's glass at 
the other end. 

» Lord Randolph Churchill, by Winston S. Churchill. 



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XIII 
UNAUTHORIZED PROGRAMME 

' The poorest he that is in England hatha life to Uveas much as the greatest 
he.' — A Roundhead of 1647. 

THE year 1885 marked the flood tide of Mr. Chamberlain's popular- 
ity in the Liberal party and among the reformers of thecoimtry. 
While he submitted and with great earnestness advocated the proposals 
which Mr. Goschen truly described as the unauthorized progranune, 
the eyes of Radicals and of all who desired to see vast changes turned 
to him with hope and confidence. By the working classes in the 
towns, and by labourers in the rural districts, he was hailed as a 
poUtical prophet, as a social saviour, who could and would introduce 
a new era of equality and comfort. Nothing but an old man's life 
stood between him and the headship of the Liberals. He was already 
regarded by a section as the real leader of the party ; and the champions 
of privilege and vested rights dreaded him as their most dangerous 
enemy. 

Many of those who cheered Mr. Chamberlain in 1885, suid from 
whom he parted in 1886, charged him with desiring to supplant Mr. 
Gladstone. As he was ambitious, and went faster than his chief, it 
was suspected that he wished to take the chief's place before the veteran 
was ready to retire. But although he advocated his own views with 
unusual independence and endeavoured by means of public opinion 
to secure their adoption in the Cabinet he resorted to no act of rebeUion. 
On the contrary, almost since he entered Parliament he had abstained 
from the admonitions to the leader in which he indulged in previous 
years, and during his tenure of ofl&ce he pronounced on Mr. Gladstone 
some glowing panegyrics. In December, 1882, he described him as 
* the noblest figure in English political history ' ; and in the following 
month, as already noted, he said Mr. Gladstone's retirement would 
be ' an incalculable misforttme.' In January, 1885, he boasted of 
a leader ' whose unsurpassed ability and long-tried devotion to the 
people's service had earned for him their undying regard and esteem ' ; 
and in June he delivered a splendid eulogy of which he was often 
reminded, declaring that great men are like great mountains,^ and 
that we do not appreciate their magnitude while we are still close 
> He had previously used this simile with reference to Cobden. 

87 



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«8 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

to them. Extolling ' the greatest statesman of our time ' he protested 
against the vulgar affronts and the lying accusations of which Mr. 
<Yladstone had nightly been made the subject in the House of Commons, 
and said it ' behoved those whom he had served so long to remember 
these things, to resent them, and to pimish them/ 

It was against the moderate Liberals, rather than against their 
common chief, that he openly directed his ambitious designs. He 
admitted that he found it difl&cult to reconcile his loyalty to colleagues 
in the Cabinet with the Radical principles which he represented ; 
and while frankly reserving the immediate application of his opinions, 
he strove to ensure their success in the future. Probably in those 
days he shared the general belief encouraged by Mr. Gladstone himself 
that the famous chief would soon put off his armour, and no doubt 
he was determined that in that event his own views, and not the 
more moderate doctrines of Lord Hartington and Mr. Goschen, should 
prevail. The struggle of 1885 was a struggle between these statesmen 
and himself. 

His speeches in expounding the unauthorized Radical programme 
were the most eloquent of his life. They were inspired by a vivid 
consciousness of the needs of his poor fdlow-countrymen, and by a 
burning conviction as to the necessary remedies. Out of the heart 
the orator spoke. His utterances were those of deep sincerity. A 
tone of passion vibrated in his voice, and thrilled his audiences. He 
tried in later years to repeat that thrill, but the fire seldom flashed into 
the old flame. After 1886 Mr. Chamberlain's career — ^to use another 
metaphor — ^was diverted from its original tendency and course, and 
while swollen into a great stream it lost some of its natural impetuosity 
and force. 

Although his independent campaign opened with a sensational 
declaration on ransom at Bfrmingham in January, 1885, it had been 
prepared a considerable time beforehand. There had been a growing 
divergence between Mr. Chamberlain's aims and aspirations and those 
of the Whig section of his Cabinet colleagues. Even in 1883 that 
keen and incisive critic. Lord Salisbury, expressed surprise that so 
Radical a politician should be a membe^ of the same Government as 
Lord Granville and Lord Hartington. ' We have,' he said, ' a Cabinet 
which, as a Cabinet, looks upon manhood suffrage as dangerous, 
and utterly resists the disestablishment of the English Church. We 
have a minister in that Cabinet, wielding the authority of the Cabinet, 
and standing in his position by virtue of the countenance they give 
him. We have him declaring that any other solution than that of 
manhood suffr^e will be depriving mfllions of their right, and that 
the property of the Church of England belongs to every section of the 
nation.' In the same year this independent Cabinet minister gave 



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UNAUTHORIZED PROGRAMME 89 

the following sketch of the questions upon which he believed the 
great majority of the people were agreed, but whose solution was 
delayed till all were taken into counsel : ' The complete establishment 
of rdigioiis equality, the freedom of education in our national schools, 
the improvement of the dwellings of the poor, the improvement of 
the condition of the agricultural labourers, the popular control of the 
liquor traffic, and such a readjustment of taxation as would proportion 
its burdens to the means and ability of the taxpayer.' Then came 
the battle of the franchise with Mr. Chamberlain's eager desire to fight 
the House of Lords, in order that — ^as he said — ^its career of highhanded 
wrong might be brought to an end. At the close of that controversy 
he began his own new campaign with full energy and vigour. 

' How to promote the greater happiness of the masses of the people, 
how to increase their enjojonent of Ufe : ' that, he declared in his 
celebrated speech at Birmingham, on January 5, 1885, was the problem 
of the future. The centre of power, as he argued, had been shifted, 
and the old order was giving place to the new. Tracing this new order 
he made the allusion to ransom which was so often quoted during the 
remainder of his life. * I ask,' he said, * what ransom will property 
pay for the security which it enjoys ? What substitute will it find 
for the natural rights which have ceased to be recognized ? Society 
is banded together in order to protect itself against the instincts of 
men who would make very short work of private ownership if they 
were left alone. That is all very well, but I maintain that society 
owes to these men something more than mere toleration in return for 
the restrictions which it places upon their Uberty of action.' 

On several occasions Mr. Chamberlain had caused a shudder to 
run through the contented classes, but his new offence was regarded 
as the worst. He was reprimanded and reproached for making a 
direct attack upon the rights of property, and for inciting the poor to 
confiscation. ' The r»m« newspaper,' as he said, ' did me the honour 
to misrepresent me ; Lord Salisbury denoimced me ; Mr. Goschen 
lectured me ; the Duke of Argyll scolded me ; and the Spectator 
newspaper preached to me.' In a note in his journal on the ' ransom ' 
speech Mr. Goschen wrote : ' Quite detestable. . . . Setting class 
against dass ; all against property, which he implies but does not 
actually say is landed property.' * Mr. Chamberlain was undismayed 
by a storm of protests. He continued to warn friends and foes that 
the political world was about to be changed by the great increase of 
the power of the large towns, secured through the redistribution of 
seats, and by the appearance at the poU of the agricultural labourer. 
The old shibboleths would be found insufficient for the altered circum- 
stances of the case, and it would be no good to rattle the dry bones 
^ Life of Lord Goschen^ by the Hon. Arthur D. EUiot. 



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90 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

of past political controversies. With feelings of gratitude and hope 
such warm words as the following were heard in the humble cottages 
of the land : ' The agricultural labourer is the most pathetic figure 
in our whole social system. He is condemned by apparently inexor- 
able conditions to a life of unremitting and hopeless toil, with the 
prospect of the poorhouse as its only or probable termination. For 
generations he has been oppressed, ignored, defrauded, and now he will 
have to be reckoned with.' 

' The right to live,' ' natural rights,' ' a right to a part of the 
land of his birth,' * the duty of society as a whole to secure the comfort 
and welfare of all its individual members ' — ^these were phrases with 
which Mr. Chamberlain caused a greater fright even thsoi his actual 
proposals. When such have been used in a later day by Socialist 
members of the House of Conunons they have been severely reprobated, 
and in 1885 they were regarded as the phrases of a leveller and an 
anarchist. Their author was denounced by the landed aristocracy 
as a man who, for his own political purposes, was prepared to turn 
society upside down. Taunts often heard in private were publicly 
repeated at a Conservative Club by Mr. Marriott who sneered at Mr. 
Chamberlain posing as a plebeian and added : — ' If to have an income 
of £15,000 or £20,000 a year, if to live in a palatial residence, and to 
have the best food, and the choicest wines and cigars, and to entertain 
the rich and noble, was being a plebeian, why ! every man would 
like to be a plebeian. Mr. Chamberlain was ready to be all things to 
all men. No doubt he had made sacrifices. For a member of a 
Republican Club to take the oath of allegiance was a sacrifice ; for 
the man who before 1873 desired to abolish the Royal family it must 
have been a sacrifice to go to Windsor and dine with Her Majesty.' 

Meanwhile the new progranmie continued to be unfolded by its 
inventor. At Ipswich, on January 14, he advocated free education ; 
the extension of local government to the counties ; the provision of 
healthy, decent dwellings in large towns and in the country ; facilities 
for the labourer to obtain a small plot of land ; the taxation of ground 
rents ; graduated income-tax ; land reform ; the restitution of 
common land and of charitable endowments diverted from the poor. 
' If the rights of property are sacred,' he argued, ' surely the rights of 
the poor are entitled to an especial reverence. Naboth's vineyard 
deserves protection quite as much as Ahab's palace.' Torrents of 
abuse and whirlwinds of invective enveloped him, as he informed his 
constituents on January 29, but he ridiculed the clamour about con- 
fiscation and blackmail and plunder. It was, he declared, ' so much 
dust raised by men who were interested in maintaining the present 
system, and who are either too prejudiced to read my proposals or to 
stupid to understand them.' Among these proposals he included 



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UNAUTHORIZED PROGRAMME 91 

labour representation, payment of members, one man one vote, and 
in spite of the anger and derision of the landed class, he repeated that 
he was anxious to call in the local authorities in every district and give 
them power to take land at its fair value and incur expenditure in the 
provision of small holdings. He had a warning for the landlords 
who were rebuking him. ' If they are unable to develop their pro- 
perty to the best advantage, if they cannot perform the obligations 
which attach to it, then I say they must be taught that their ownership 
is a trust which is Umited by the supreme necessities of the nation, 
and they must give place to others who will do full justice to the 
capabiUties of the land.' 

By declarations which not only were made without the approval 
of the Cabinet but were obviously intended to bring popular pressure 
to bear on the Whig section, Mr. Chamberlain again added to the 
embarrassments of the much-vexed Prime Minister. Earl Granville's 
letters show that the most tolerant of colleagues resented his con- 
duct. It was complained that he had used a great meeting at Birming- 
ham to overcome the opinions of those who disagreed with him in the 
Government. ' I intended,' wrote Lord Granville to Mr. Gladstone 
on February i, ' raising the question of his home utterances if he had 
been present at the Cabinet, not as a complaint of his holding opinions 
from which I might partially or wholly differ, but of his action as a 
member of the Cabinet.'^ Lord Hartington was uncomfortable 
and imsettled, and there was inuninent danger of a rupture in the 
Government, which was threatened at many points. News of the 
fall of Khartoum arrived on February 5 ; in April the decision was 
taken to retire from the Soudan ; then arose the risk of a war with 
Russia in consequence of the Penjdeh incident on the frontier of 
Afghanistan ; and Ireland was as usual a cause of contention and 
keen anxiety. Nevertheless, as Mr. Morley recalls, Mr. Gladstone 
' imputed no low motives to a colleague because the colleague gave 
him trouble.' 

Criticism of the new doctrines of Socialism at the early stage 
of their advocacy proceeded chiefly from Lord Salisbury and Mr. 
Goschen ; and to these critics Mr. Chamberlain replied with light 
heart and undaunted mind. Dealing with the Conservative leader 
at an Eighty Club function he complained of characteristic invective 
and characteristic inaccuracy, and described the gist of Lord Salisbury's 
recent speeches as the promise of a vigorous foreign policy, and a 
feeble imitation of Protection in the guise of what was called Fair 
Trade. This seemed to the Radical reformer to be ' rather a small 
programme for a great party.' At Mr. Goschen he sneered in an 
elaborate passage of sarcasm, as ' the candid friend.' To hear some 
1 Life of Lord Granville, by Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice. 



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92 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

people talk one would suppose that the only thing for a Liberal to 
do was to cultivate his own garden for himself. Mr. Chamberlain, 
however, did not think that the circumstances justified the optimism 
of Candide. Describing the poverty which ' goes on in sight of the 
mansions of the rich/ and calling for something more than barren and 
fruitless criticism, he boldly asserted * the duty of society as a whole 
to secure the comfort and welfare of all its individual members.' 

Dissension in the Cabinet extending over a variety of subjects 
came to a point in the case of Ireland. The question of renewing 
the Crimes Act clamoured for decision, and agreement was diffi- 
cult. Mr. Chamberlain and Sir Charles Dilke pressed for local govern- 
ment and no coercion. At most they would consent only to the 
renewal of the Crimes Act for one year, and the Birmingham Post 
announced, on May 22, that if the Government did not take this 
course these Radical statesmen would resign their places. Subse- 
quently they agreed to the milder provisions of the Act being continued 
for two years, if accompanied by satisfactory measures of local govern- 
ment. The Ministers were still deliberating on the portions of the 
statute to be renewed when they were defeated on the Budget by a 
combination of the Nationalists with the Conservatives.^ Passionate 
enthusiasm was displayed by the victors. Stirring scenes of 
triumph have been witnessed since then, but on no occasion was 
passion fiercer than in June, 1885. NationaUsts exulted over the 
defeat of a Government which had mixed very stiff coercion with 
generous remedies, and Conservatives were excited to ecstasy by the 
overthrow of those whom they held responsible for the death of General 
Gordon. The Ministers themselves were not sorry to escape from 
office, and it was asserted that the chief Whip took less than the usual 
measures to secure a majority. 

Although the achievements of Mr. Gladstone's second Govern- 
ment fen short of expectation they formed the subject of complacent 
retrospect by one of its members. Mr. Chamberlain gave a record 
of great accomplishments : ' We have abolished flogging in the army ; 
we have suspended the operation of the odious Acts called the Con- 
tagious Diseases Acts; we have amended the game laws; we 
have reformed the burial laws ; we have introduced and carried an 
Employers' LiabiUty Bill ; we have had a Bankruptcy Act, a Patents Act 
and a host of secondary measures, which together would have formed 
the stock-in-trade of a Tory Government for twenty years at least. 
And these are the fringe only, the outside of the more important 

* An understanding had been arrived at between the allies that a Conservative 
Government would not renew the Crimes Act, would grant an inquiry into the 
case of certain convictions known as the Maamtrasna case and would appoint a 
Viceroy sympathetic to Irish aspirations. 



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UNAUTHORIZED PROGRAMME 93 

legislation of our time, the chief elements in which have been the 
Irish Land Bill and the Reform Bill.' It was, however — ^then and 
alwa}rs — rather with the futm'e than with the past that the Radical 
leader was concerned. He wound up a review of two Parliaments 
by saying : ' I believe that the reduction of the franchise wiU bring 
into prominence social questions which have been too long neglected, 
that it may force upon the consideration of thinking men of all parties 
the condition of our poor — ^aye, and the contrast which unfortunately 
exists between the great luxury and wealth which some enjoy, and 
the misery and destitution which prevail amongst large portions of 
the population. I do not believe that the Liberal poUcy, mine or 
any other, will ever take away the security which property rightly 
enjoys — ^that it will ever destroy the certainty that industry and thrift 
will meet with their due reward ; but I do think that something may 
be done to enlarge the obligation and responsibility of the whole com- 
munity towards its poorer and less fortunate members.' 



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XIV 
THE LIBERAL LEADERSHIP 

RELIEF from ofl&ce was welcomed by no Minister more than by 
Mr. Chamberlain. The defeat of the Government in June, 1885, 
gave him a freer opportimity to advocate his own programme. A 
turning point had been reached in the Liberal march, and the questioil 
arose — ^Who was to lead the party henceforward? Was the old 
chief to remain at the head of the forces, or was he to give place to 
another ? And if he was to retire to his tent was he to be succeeded 
by a Moderate or by a Radical ? 

All the qualities of a leader were displayed by Mr. Chamberlain. 
He was prompt and brisk in attack on the opposing party and bold in 
the promotion of a policy for his followers. At a Cobden club dinner 
and at a Holloway meeting a few days after the Liberal defeat, while 
prescribing his own remedies, including the satisfaction of Irish patri- 
otic feeling, he poured unmeastired contempt on the Administration 
which had been formed by Lord Salisbury. He ridiculed the * stop- 
gap Government ' and the ' caretakers on the premises,' and pictured 
the Conservative party ' with indecent expedition hastening to divest 
itself of a whole wardrobe of pledges and professions which it had 
accumulated during the past few years, stripping off every rag of 
consistency, and standing up naked and not ashamed in order that it 
might squeeze itself into ofl&ce.' He complained of a want of fair 
play on the part of the Conservatives when they were in opposition, 
alleging that they had ignored the decencies of debate, and lowered the 
dignity of the House of Conmions, in order to embarrass ' a statesman 
who with a load of years upon his head, and with the almost intolerable 
burdens of the Empire upon his shoulders, had been called upon again 
and again to bear the brunt of personal malignity and of studied 
disrespect.' 

With equal vehemence at Hackney, on July 24, Mr. Chamberlain 
denounced them for making a compact with the Pamellite party, and 
in language such as is seldom applied by one in his position to Ministers 
of the Crown, he remarked that the consistency of our public life, the 
honour of poUtical controversy, the patriotism of statesmen had been 
profaned and trampled in the mire by a crowd of hungry office- 
seekers who were now doing Radical work in the Tory uniform. Lord 

94 



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THE LIBERAL LEADERSHIP 95 

Salisbury and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach were, he said, dragged at the 
tail of Lord Randolph Churchill (who had been appointed Secretary 
of State for India), but he added, for the consolation of his friends, 
that * a democratic revolution was not to be accomplished by aristo- 
cratic perverts.' His own programme, as he now unfolded it, included 
local government, the reform of the land laws, revision of taxation, 
control of the liquor traffic, the question of the State Church, free 
schools, the abolition of the game laws, and the greater security of life 
at sea. ' We cannot,* he said, ' trust the solution of these questions 
to the forced consent of the Tory party, to be refused as long as pos- 
sible, to be conceded with reluctance, to be granted only when further 
resistance has become dangerous and impossible.' 

On the evening that he was at Hackney, nearly 300 Liberal peers 
and members of the House of Conmions attended a banquet to Lord 
Spencer, in honour of his Irish vice-royalty. Lord Hartington presided, 
and Mr. John Bright joined in the demonstration. The absence of the 
two most prominent Radicals was noted with displeasure. ' Amongst 
those who were present,' writes Mr. Goschen's biographer, ' a strong 
feeling undoubtedly prevailed that Mr. Chamberlain and Sir Charles 
Dilke were shirking their responsibility for the impopular acts of the 
late Cabinet.' * There was, indeed, little room in their hearts for 
S3mipathy with a colleague who had administered coercion. 

The publication in July of The Radical Programme, comprising a 
series of articles which had appeared in the Fortnightly Review, and 
bearing on its red cover the attractive adverstisement ' with a preface 
by the Rt. Hon. J. Chamberlain, M.P.,' was an important factor in 
the political controversy. * Radicalism which has been the creed of 
the most numerous section of the Liberal party outside the House of 
Commons will henceforth,' said the writer of the preface, ' be a powerful 
factor inside the walls of the popular Chamber. The stage of agitation 
has passed and the time for action has come. . . . New conceptions of 
public duty, new developments of social enterprise, new estimates of 
the natural obligations of the members of the conmiunity to one another 
have come into view and demand consideration.' He did not pledge 
himself to all the proposals contained in the book, but the belief was 
that it had been written under his inspiration, and it gave increased 
impetus to the Radical movement. Among the projects which it set 
forth were ' manhood suffrage, equal electoral districts, payment of 
members, disestablishment and disendowment of the Church of 
England, creation of national councils for Scotland, Ireland and Wales, 
progressive taxation of incomes and of realized property, reform of 
land tenure, and free education.' Nearly the whole of this pro- 
gramme was advocated also on the platform by Mr. Chamberlain. 
* Lif$ of Lord Goschen, by the Hon. Arthur D. Elliot. 



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96 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Radicals who attended his meetings went home to read thejvolume'; 
others bought the printed word who could hot hear the voice. The 
book had a large circulation throughout the country and was read with 
eagerness and fascination as the gospel of a social millennium. 

A doubly terrific aspect was given in the minds of Whigs and Con- 
servatives to the new proposals, on account of the Sociahstic sentiments 
with which their author surrounded them. He spoke of ' the excessive 
aggregation of wealth in a few hands/ and in recommending land reforms 
he remarked that ' the sanctity of private property is no doubt an 
important principle, but the public good is a greater and higher object 
than any private interest, and the comfort and happiness of the people 
and the prosperity of the coimtry must never be sacrified to the exag- 
gerated claims of a privileged class who are now the exclusive possessors 
of the great gift of the Almighty to the human race.' Again : ' Our 
object is the elevation of the poor, of the masses of the people — a levelling 
up of them, by which we shall do something to remove the excessive 
inequality in social life which is now one of the greatest dangers, as 
well as a great injury, to the State.* Naturally such aspirations dis- 
turbed the sleep of those who believed that ' whatever is, is best. * Well 
might Lord Hartington lament the rate at which they were moving 
in the Socialist direction ! 

Renewed sneers and rebukes and reproaches were flung at the 
offender by prominent journals and politicians but they failed to repress 
or intimidate Mr. Chamberlain. He agreed with Mr. Cobden that the 
opposition of The Times was an indispensable condition of any success- 
ful prosecution of Liberal reform ; and he repaid all critics in their own 
coin, with interest added. ' I am not discouraged,' he said in August, 
' I am not repentant.' A month later he boasted that ' like the great 
Lord Clive,' he was astonished at his own moderation. 

In the autunm he made a triumphant tour through the Highlands, 
where the enthusiasm excited by his speeches reached an enormous 
height. ' I say that men are bom with natural rights, with the right 
to existence and the right to a fair and reasonable opportunity of 
enjoying it.' This was the keynote of the gospel which he carried 
to the crofters, and his words were as manna in the wilderness to 
men with land-hunger. ' Let us look,' he said, ' this fetish in the 
face ; let us examine these sacred rights of property ; let us see on 
what they are founded ; and let us see whether there ought not to be 
some limitation to the exorbitant pretensions with which they have been 
accompanied.' The eloquent agitator, in tones which resoimded 
throughout the whole country, denounced a system * which postpones 
the good of the commimity to the interests of individuals, which loses 
sight altogether of the obligations of property in a servile adulation 
of its rights ; ' he complained of rights-of-way being closed ; he pro- 



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THE LIBERAL LEADERSHIP 97 

posed that the local authorities should have power to take land com- 
pulsorily at its fair value and let it for crofters' holdings ; he demanded 
the restriction of deer forests and their special taxation. ' My pro- 
posak,* he remarked, ' have been described by those who think the phrase 
a sufficient condemnation as Socialistic : but those persons have 
forgotten to tell you that they are also Christian,' He lived to admit 
that the word ' ransom ' was not very well chosen, but during his 
Radical propaganda it represented in his mind the loftiest of doctrines. 

The opinion of a friend on his Highland tour may be found in a 
letter from Dr. Dale.^ When all men were taking sides for or against 
the Radical leader, Dr. Dale wrote to him : ' I congratulate you very 
heartily on your recent speeches in the North ; apart from the sub- 
stance of them, which was admirable, the form — ^in which I include 
all the rhetorical elements — ^reached a level which, I think, you never 
touched before, and which I hope you will keep. It is a great thing 
for a man to make an advance of this kind when he has touched fifty.' 
' This criticism,' modestly added his friend, ' is rather presumptuous 
for a person like myself to offer to an ex-Cabinet minister ; but the 
delight one has in watching the growing strength of one's comrades 
remains when a comrade has become a chief, and when one has lost the 
right to speak to him in this way. ' It would be a libel on Mr. Chamber- 
lain to suspect that his speeches at this period did not represent his 
genuine feeling. His tone became different in later years, and while 
some of the unauthorised proposals were carried out with his assistance 
or support, other reforms advocated in 1885 faded to matters of 
theory, to questions which he treated ' in the abstract.' But certainly 
when he extolled them in the hearing of excited multitudes his sin- 
cerity was unquestioned. The pathos and the passion he displayed, 
the doquence of his speeches and the enthusiasm of his audiences testi- 
fied to his earnestness. 

The pages and pictures of Punch show how Mr. Chamberlain had 
advanced in notoriety. In the early portion of his ofl&cial career he 
played a minor rSle. For instance, at the beginning of 1881, in a 
Twelfth-Night procession at St. Stephen's, he was a page-boy with a 
basket. Gradually he came to the front and challenged attention as 
a leading figure. By December, 1883, he was Hamlet, Prince of 
Birmingham, with Lord Hartington among the players to whom he 
gave directions. In those days, the cartoonists were inclined to depict 
him with heavy features and thick lips, and his side whiskers looked 
clumsy. There is, however, thorough alertness in his figure at the 
beginning of 1884 when he appears as a juggler, and also a year later 
in the picture of ' Joey,' the clown, who with the Socialist poker hits 
'an old party,' engrossed in The Times, and exclaims: — 
* Life of R. W, Dale, of Birmingham. 



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98 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Whoop I Didn't stolid Harty give a start ? 
And didn't Pussy Granville give a jump ? 

In the autumn of 1885 Mr. Chamberlain was the most familiar 
of Punch's companions. One week he and Lord Hartington are out 
as sportsmen with their guns, the Whig wishing to stick to the old 
ground and the Radical with a fancy for breaking up new ; and in the 
following week he is engaged in a polo match with Lord Randolph 
Churchill, the one riding Socialism and the other Tory democracy. 
He looks smarter when his whiskers disappear, and his face gradually 
assumes the sharper aspect so familiar in later years. 

Mr. Chamberlain's relationship with Mr. Gladstone was much 
discussed during his advocacy of the unauthorised programme. He 
was taking the old chief's place in many minds and hearts, and it was 
assiuned that his ambition would not fall short of his opportunities. 
If, however, he had hoped or expected that there would be an early 
vacancy in the leadership he was disappointed. Mr. Gladstone's 
authorized manifesto, in view of the approaching general election, 
appeared when the Radical agitator was in the north of Scotland. 
It put an end to the idea of his resignation, and it largely affected his 
lieutenant's outlook. Mr. Chamberlain's reference to it at Inverness 
excited surprise. ' I have had,' he said, ' no pretensions at all to lay 
down any complete or exhaustive Liberal programme. That is the 
duty of a greater man than I. That duty has been discharged by Mr. 
Gladstone in the manifesto which he has published, and which ivill be 
welcomed throughout the United Kingdom, not merely as a clear and 
eloquent exposition of Liberal policy, but also as a welcome assurance 
that the chief who on so many previous occasions has led us to victory 
will lead us once more in the coming struggle ! ' A more correct, 
submissive attitude could not have been taken by a conventional 
place-man, nor could the most polite and considerate of colleagues 
have shown better taste. The differences between the two pro- 
grammes were described by conciliatory people as differences of dimen- 
sion. A French observer expressed their opinion when he remarked 
that Mr. Gladstone's progranune was a minimum of necessary reforms, 
Mr. Chamberlain's a maximum of possible reforms. All who wished 
to see unity in the Liberal party were delighted to think that while 
holding himself free to advocate his own proposals, the Radical propa- 
gandist was ready to co-operate with his famous chief in carrying out 
the authorised policy so far as it went. 

Their satisfaction was of short duration. The belief in Mr. Cham- 
berlain's complaisance was sharply dispelled at a meeting which he 
addressed in the Victoria Hall, London, on September 24, — a meeting 
memorable even in the autunm campaign for its enthusiasm. Mr. 
Chamberlain himself and Mr. Morley, who was chairman, experienced 



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THE LIBERAL LEADERSHIP 99 

considerable difl&culty in obtaining admission on account of the large 
crowd at the doors, twenty stewards being required to clear a passage 
for them. The popular agitator was greeted with the most fervent 
cheers. He was a conquering hero. Fresh from his tour in Scotland 
he looked full of vigour and confidence ; his voice surprised some of 
those who had heard it only a few months previously. It displayed a 
richness and variety of tone of which many persons had considered it 
incapable. 

The matter of the two programmes was dealt with discreetly by 
the chairman. Lord Iddesleigh (as Sir Stafford Northcote had become) 
had remarked that the old moon lying in the lap of the new moon was 
a sign of squally weather, whereupon Mr. Morley retorted that Liberals 
ought to be able to make a great many stars out of their old moon. 
Mr. Chamberlain, however, was not now content to be a star. He had 
changed since he was at Inverness. After dealing with such projects as 
free education and the compulsory acquisition of land, he said : 
' Whether they will be included in the programme of the Liberal party 
or not does not depend upon me. It does not depend upon any 
individual leader, however influential and highly placed he may be. 
It rests with the constituencies themselves and their representatives. 
... If I am right these views will find adequate expression, and they 
will receive due weight and attention from the party leaders. If I am 
disappointed, then my course is dear. I cannot press the views of the 
minority against the conclusions of the majority of the party ; but it 
would be, on the other hand, dishonourable in me, and lowering 
the high tone which ought to prevail in public life, if I, having com- 
mitted myself personally, as I have done, to the expediency of these 
proposals, were to take my place in any Government which excluded 
them from its programme.' 

This announcement, which Mr. Morley, in less sympathetic days, 
described as melodramatic, suited the ardent temper of the Radicals 
in the Victoria Hall, but disappointed the peace-makers of the party, 
and the Whigs conmiented on it in the tone of men who foimd their 
worst fears justified. It sounded like a direct appeal to the electors to 
choose between Mr. Chamberlain's programme and another programme 
— ^to choose between himself and the old chief. Unfriendly critics 
said he was trying to drive Mr. Gladstone into retirement. Fifteen years 
later he told a famous journalist that in 1885 he was certainly resolved 
to be Prime Minister in the Liberal succession.^ But, as some observers 
who were shrewd as well as charitable recognized at the time, the 
appeal was not necessarily against Mr. Gladstone. Perhaps Mr. 
Chamberlain was merely guarding the succession against the Whigs 
who were struggling for control of the party policy. It might 
» Sixty Years in the Wilderness, by Sir Henry Lucy. 



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100 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

well be that he cared much more for policy than for position. On 
October i, at Bradford, he replied to the accusation that he was 
dictating terms to the party and its leader. ' Office for me,' he said, 
' has no attraction unless it be made to serve the cause I have under- 
taken to promote, and if that reward is denied me, or is beyond my 
grasp, I will be content to leave to others the spoils of victory.' A 
week later he visited Mr. Gladstone at Hawarden, but from the point of 
view of an agreement on poUcy the meeting proved useless. 

Some of his latter-day followers would have consigned to oblivion 
the speeches of his Radical prime, but not only were they printed in 
the newspapers but they were collected in a volimie, issued at the end 
of 1885, which was edited by Sir H. W. Lucy ; and it was noted that 
he had been good enough to look over the proofs. The editor wrote 
that, ' the almost meteoric movement that Mr. Chamberlain has made 
on the political horizon within the last ten years justifies the belief 
that his career is bounded only by the attainment of the highest office 
in the State open to an English citizen.' The speeches in the volume 
indicated the policy which, if he had reached that office in his Radical 
days, he would have carried out. They included the ' toil not, neither 
do they spin ' speech ; the plain words to peers at Denbigh ; the Ran- 
som declaration ; and several of the orations of the autumn of 1885. 
The attacks of Conservative statesmen and moderate Liberals 
became sharper and sharper as the struggle drew towards the first 
election in which the new voters were to take part. Their language 
was described by Mr. Chamberlain as malignant and scurrilous. He 
was denounced as an anarchist, and accused of the policy of Jack 
Sheppard ; Mr. Goschen sneered at the Radicals whom he led as the 
Salvation Army of politics ; Lord Salisbury, whose cool contempt was 
exasperating, ridiculed his land proposals as those of inveterate Cock- 
neys who had never gone beyond a smoky town or the neighbourhood of 
a big town hall, and declared that his doctrines of ransom were no new 
discovery ; they were the common property of every barbarous and 
uncivihzed Government since the beginning of the world. To Jack 
Cade he was compared by Lord Iddesleigh. ' I hope,' said that noble 
lord at Aberdeen on Sept. 22, ' it will not offend many of his friends 
when I say that it struck me when I read some of Mr. Chamberlain's 
speeches in which he expressed his admiration for those who taught 
that the lower and workuig classes of this country were better off in 
the 15th century than they are now that he would have had considerable 
sympathy with the great popular leader, John Cade.' 

Fighting the battle of Radicalism with a courage, an ardour, and 
an ability which excited the amazement of the whole country and 
the admiration of a host of followers, Mr. Chamberlain retxuned quite 
as hard blows as he received. There was an air of mockery in his 



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THE LIBERAL LEADERSHIP loi 

replies to the Whigs. Feelings which had been suppressed in the 
severe atmosphere of the Cabinet room in Downing Street were relieved 
in the sympathetic surroundings of the popular platform. When 
Lord Hartington criticised some parts of the new gospel its exponent 
made a sharp retort which the political world did not for twenty years 
let slip into oblivion. ' It is perfectly futile and ridiculous,' he said, 
' for any poUtical Rip Van Winkle to come down from the mountain 
on whidi he has been slumbering, and to tell us that these things are 
to be excluded from the Liberal programme. The world has moved 
on while these dreamers have been sleeping.' 

At the critic who was the first to describe his proposals as the 
unauthorised programme, he flung equally stinging personal allusion. 
' Mr. Goschen is very great at finding dif&culties, but he would be 
greater still if he would only remember that it is the business of a 
statesman to overcome them. To scent out difl&culties in the way 
of every reform — ^that is the congenial task of a man of the world 
who coldly recognizes the evils from which he does not suffer himself, 
and reserves his chief enthusiasm for the critical examination of every 
proposal for their redress, and for a scathing denimdation of the poor 
enthusiast who will not let well alone, and who cannot preserve the 
serene equanimity of superior persons : — 

Well, well, it's a mercy we have men to tell us 
The rights and the wrongs of these things anyhow. 

And that Providence sends us oracular fellows 
To sit on the fence and slang those at the plough.' ^ 

On a previous occasion the Radical dictator had said that if Mr. Goschen 
could not honestly go with the stream the stream would pass him by, 
and he would be stranded on the beach. This was naturally inter- 
preted by the Whig statesman as an order to stand aside, but Mr. 
Chamberlain sarcastically pretended : ' We cannot spare him. He 
performs in the Liberal party the useful part of the skeleton at the 
Egyptian feasts. He there is to repress our enthusiasm and to 
moderate our joy.' Allusions to Rip Van Winkle and the skeleton 
at the feast were recalled in many controversies, sometimes by one 
party, sometimes by another, but the statesmen thus described spent 
a considerable portion of their mature and tolerant lives as the allies 
and colleagues of the impatient reformer, and if they recalled the gibes 
it may have been only as subjects for jest. 

The retorts to Conservative critics were characterised by political 

* Wal, it's a marcy we've gut folks to tell us 

The rights an' the wrongs o' these matters, I vow, — 
God sends country lawyers, an* other wise fellers 
To start the world's team wen it gits in a slough. 

— {The Bighw Papers.) 



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102 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

rather than personal feeling. Mr. Chamberlain professed to receive 
in very good part the comparison which ' so good-tempered an 
opponent ' as Lord Iddesleigh instituted between himself and Mr. 
John Cade, who at least, as Mr. Morley pointed out, had this resem- 
blance with him that the initials of his name were the same. ' Knowing 
as I do,' he said, * of what Tory misrepresentation is capable, I am 
inclined to think that Jack Cade was an ill-used and much misunder- 
stood gentleman who happened to have a sympathy with the poor 
and the oppressed, and who therefore was made the mark for the 
malignant hatred of the aristocratic and land-owning classes, who 
combined to burlesque his opinions and to put him out of the way.' 
Lord Salisbury's reference to inveterate Coclqieys galled a politician 
who was bom in Camberwell. He replied by ridiculing the idea that 
no one was entitled to form an opinion on agricultural questions except 
members of ' that fortunate but limited class which has contrived to 
obtain for its exclusive possession the greater part of the land of the 
coimtry, and which has had, owing to our imperfect representative 
system, an altogether disproportionate influence in legislation.' He 
could not recollect any great or beneficent reform which had emanated 
from the landed gentry nor one which had not received their persistent 
hostility. It was, he added, two ' inveterate Cockneys ' — Mr. Bright 
and Mr. Cobden — ^who aroused the nation to a sense of the iniquities 
of a system which taxed the bread of the people in order to raise the 
rents of the landlords. 

On every opportunity Mr. Chamberlain continued passionately 
to preach ' the gospel of political humanity.' Rebuking the ' con- 
venient cant of selfish wealth ' he became, in a sense, the Friend of 
Humanity Uke the Knife-Grinder whom he quoted in one of his 
earliest gibes at Mr. Gladstone.^ In a thrilling voice, which was 
echoed in every comer of the land, he expressed the feelings of the 
class which had hitherto been almost dumb. At a great meeting 
at Bradford in connection with the National Liberal Federation, 
he repeated the stem warning of Longfellow : — 

There is a poor blind Samson in this land. 

Shorn of his strength and bound in bonds of steel. 

Who may in some grim revel raise his hand 
And shake the pillars of this commonweal. 

Frequently in those days he resorted to the poets for language in 
which to embody his thoughts. In a reply to Lord Salisbury,describ- 
ing the Ufe of the agricultural labourers, he asserted that it might be 
said of them as truly as it was in the time of the Com Law rhymer 
that they were : — 

* Fortnightly RevUw, September, 1873. 



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THE LIBERAL LEADERSHIP 103 

Landless, restless, joyless, hopeless. 

Gasping still for bread and breath. 
To their graves by trouble hunted 

Albion's Helots toil for death. 

On the stop-gap Cxovemment Mr. Chamberlain's attacks during 
the autumn never relaxed. Although Lord Salisbury was Prime 
Minister, and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach leader of the House of Commons, 
the chief Conservative electioneerer was Lord Randolph Churchill, 
whose democratic policy, however embarrassing in practice, was very 
useful in platform speeches. On all these statesmen the Radical 
leader poured his copious invective and raillery, his scorn and his 
sarcasm. Taimting them with the number of aliases they assumed — 
Constitutionalists, Liberal-Conservatives, Tory democrats — he re- 
marked that the Tories had many previous convictions recorded 
against them, and asked what proof there was that their recent adversity 
had exercised a chastening effect. He complained also that they 
were acting and speaking in office in absolute contradiction to all 
they said and did in Opposition. 'This was conduct which was 
lowering to the dignity of public life by whomsoever it was practised.' 
An attempt was made to draw Lord Hartington to the Conservative 
cause. Lord Randolph Churchill expressed the hope that he and other 
moderates might break away from the Radicals and come over to the 
opposite party.^ Mr. Chamberlain, although recently rough in his 
references to one who had been his colleague, did not on the eve of 
the election encourage these overtures. On the contrary, he remarked 
that ' our Liberalism is broad enough and free enough to include within 
its borders all the friends of progress. We may differ among ourselves, 
as we have done at every period of our history, as to the order or 
even as to the nature of the measures that we shall take to give 
application to our principles, but these difficulties we will settle amongst 
ourselves and without Tory assistance.' Lord Hartington never 
yielded to rancour, and never allowed personal feeling to influence 
his political conduct. He was looking rather to an entire release 
from active political life than to a new combination, and instead of 
accepting Lord Randolph's overtures he stated that he had no confi- 
dence whatever in the Conservative leaders. This statement he made 
in the course of a speech in which he protested against Mr. Chamber- 
lain's programme and insisted that no professions should be put 
forth by the Liberal party which they were not reasonably certain 
they would be able to fuffil. Mr. Morley had remarked concerning 
a previous speech by the Whig statesman, that ' a wet blanket was 
not a good ensign of battle ', but in an amiable reply he declared that 

* When Lord Randolph appealed to Lord Hartington to ' come over and 
help us,' it was comically suggested, says Mr. Churchill, that the Whig leader 
wrote to inquire. Who's * us,' and received the answer * Us is me.' 



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104 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

the necessary political confidence continued to exist between himself 
and the colleagues with whom he had acted. 

In spite of discouragement Lord Randolph persisted in his idea. 
As early as November, before Mr. Gladstone's conversion to Home 
Rule was known, he suggested to Lord SaUsbury a coalition be- 
tween the Tories and the Whigs, with Lord Hartington as leader 
of the House of Commons. The Conservative chief was not in such a 
hurry as his colleague or did not see so far ahead. He thought the 
time for a coalition had not come yet, and remarked to Lord Randolph : 
* The Whigs hate me as much as they hate you.' ^ Meanwhile the 
Tory democrat offended the moderate Liberal by comparing him 
to a boa-constrictor. ' The British public,' he said, ' can trace the 
digestion and the deglutition by the Marquis of Hartington of the 
various morsels of the Chamberlain programme which from time to 
time are handed to him ; and the only difference between the boa- 
constrictor and the Marquis of Hartington is this — ^that the boa- 
constrictor enjoys his food and thrives on it and Lord Hartington 
loathes his food and it makes him sick.' 

Lord Salisbury, who sometimes used the language of the tiui, 
although he may have never seen a race, ' put his money ' on the 
Radical. ' Which of these contending powers of the Liberal party,' 
he asked, ' is likely to carry the victory ? Have you any doubt ? 
You see Mr. Chamberlain, with his decided opinions and his resolute 
action on the one side, and you see Rip Van Winkle and the skeleton 
on the other. Do you think that Rip Van Winkle and the skeleton 
are likely to beat Mr. Chamberlain ? ' Such rivalry was distasteful 
to at least one of the leaders. Lord Hartington appealed to Liberals 
for unity and co-operation, and made the generous admission : ' You 
want all the energy, all the quick sympathy in the wants and wishes 
of the people, of Mr. Chamberlain.' To this appeal, while the ballot- 
boxes were being prepared, the Radical responded with what the Whig 
aristocrat considered ' patronising protection.' Although Mr. Cham- 
berlain continued to protest against the idea of restricting the Liberal 
diet to suit Mr. Goschen's ' Conservative digestion,' he admitted 
that in consideration of Lord Hartington's past services they were 
bound to do all in their power to meet his views, and if possible over- 
come his objections. In one respect he also met Mr. Gladstone's 
wishes, and reassured Liberal Churchmen by stating that there was 
no chance whatever that the question of disestablishment would 
receive its final settlement in the Parliament which was about to 
assemble. 

So great, however, had been the disruptive effect of Mr. Chamber- 
lain's speeches that observers doubted if the Moderates and the Radicals 

» Lord Randolph Churchill, by W. S. ChurchiU. 



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THE LIBERAL LEADERSHIP 105 

would ever act together again in of&ce. Lord Hartington himself 
shared this doubt. ' Chamberlain ' — he wrote to Mr. Goschen on 
December 6 — ' has evidently no intention of making things easy for a 
Liberal Government, and after his abominable speech on Thursday I 
confess I should have great difl&culty in sitting in the same Cabinet 
with him.' ^ The ' abominable ' speech was one in which the Radical 
orator pungently protested against the whittling away of his progranune 
by ' some of those who call themselves our friends.* A powerful organ 
said during the general election in December that the Liberals had 
to thank Mr. Chamberlain for the irremediable disruption and hopeless 
disorganisation of their party with its high historic past and its high 
claims to national gratitude. ' His achievement,' the oracle added, 
'may give him such inunortality as was won by the man who burned 
down the Temple of Diana at Ephesus.* He lived to bum down 
another Temple, but the censor of 1885 abstained from rebuke in 1905. 

> Life of Lord Goschen, by the Hon. Arthur D. Elliot. 



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XV 
HOME RULE 

DESTINY played impishly with Mr. Chamberlain at the dose of 
1885. He had almost reached the prize when it was drawn 
hastily from his outstretched hand. In all Radical quarters he was 
recognized as the heir to the party leadership. The Rev. W. Tuckwell 
in Reminiscences of a Radical Parson, says his influence with the 
democracy at this time exceeded Mr. Gladstone's; if audiences 
cheered Mr. Gladstone's name for two minutes they cheered the 
younger man's for five. An expectation in many minds was frankly 
expressed in Mr. B. C. Skottowe's Life of Joseph Chamberlain, 
an interesting and careful book published in Birmingham. ' It seems 
pretty certain,' wrote the author, ' that in the natural course of events 
the leadership of the Liberal party must soon become vacant, and 
there is very little reason for doubting that in a comparatively short 
time Mr. Chamberlain will succeed to the place so long held by Mr. 
Gladstone, and that the Radical party will be the Liberal party of the 
future.' Mr. Labouchere, with equal frankness, in a speech at a Radical 
Club in November 1885, expressed the hope that Mr. Chamberlain 
would succeed Mr. Gladstone as Prime Minister. It was considered 
probable that the leadership of the member for Birmingham would 
deprive Liberalism of the services of Lord Hartington, but the aggres- 
sive section, while not ungrateful to the Whig, pressed for the mastery, 
and felt sure of success. The sphinx, with the secrets of the future, 
mocked their shortness of vision. New discord, a fresh test of Liber- 
alism, was being prepared by the honoured chief who had counselled 
warring lieutenants to try to act together. 

The riddle of Home Rule and of Mr. Chamberlain's relation to it 
remain unsolved. His action, when the question was presented in a 
practical form by Mr. Gladstone, was attributed to ruffled vanity, to 
pique, to baffled ambition, to jealousy, and to other personal motives. 
He more than any one else had prepared the public mind for a great 
scheme of devolution. On the other hand he challenged his opponents 
to prove that he had ever advocated such a plan as was flimg before 
the Liberal party. His references to the subject had been of a varied 
character. On the one hand he had insisted on the necessity for a vast 
extension of local government in Ireland, and on the other hand he 

106 



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HOME RULE 107 

had laid down certain vital restrictions. Much depended on what 
* Home Rule ' meant, and his interpretation at the period of the 
proposed legislation did not agree with the interpretation which had 
been placed on his words by those who wished to realize his aspirations 
in their own manner. 

Mr. Chamberlain admitted, nay boasted, in 1887,^ that he was a 
Home Ruler long before Mr. Gladstone. This claim can be easily 
justified. Speaking as a candidate at Shefl&eld in January, 1874, the 
mayor of Birmingham said he held that Irishmen had a right to govern 
themselves and their own affairs, and he was willing to concede Home 
Rule. ' It would be an advantage to both parties. The Irish would 
be satisfied, and the Legislature would move on at an accelerated pace 
without the Irish members. At present they only travelled by ParUa- 
mentary train, and that was not quick enough for him.' This was 
a characteristic utterance of his ardent da}^. For a time he used 
more qualified language after he entered Parliament. Early in 1880, 
when he may have anticipated his introduction to ofl&ce, he said, 
' I have never voted for inquiry into Home Rule and I do not 
intend to do so. While I agree with what I believe to be the ends 
and objects which Home Rule is believed by the Irish members to be 
likely to secure, I differ altogether from the means by which they propose 
to secure these ends and objects.' Again at Liverpool in 1881, after 
eighteen months of Cabinet experience, while he advocated the steering 
of an even course between extremes, Mr. Chamberlain remarked that 
he could not contemplate the establishment of a hostile Power within 
striking distance of England. The Nationalists, however, were en- 
couraged by the language which he began to use in 1883. Standing at 
the table of the House of Commons in February of that year, he spoke 
of Ireland as ' a Poland within four hours of our shores, ' and an observer 
on the opposite side (Mr. Chaplin) recorded that there were looks of 
blank dismay on the Treasury bench when he gave utterance to that 
' very foolish and painful statement.' The statement was made the 
very day after Lord Hartington had declared that the Irish Executive 
could not safely be deprived of any of its powers. The Radical 
leader's views on self-government were regarded by the Whig lord as 
madness. 

A scheme for the establishment in Ireland of an elective national 
Council was early in 1885 submitted to Mr. Gladstone and the Cabinet 
by Mr. Chamberlain. The Coimcil, as Lord Granville recorded, was 
to be based on indirect election by the county Boards. Mr. Chamber- 
lain's own explanation, given in a speech at Glasgow, was as follows — 

I have proposed that there should be established in Ireland and in Scotland, 
perhaps also in Wales and in England, national councils for dealing with affairs 

1 Dingwall, April i8, 1887. 



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io8 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

which, although they are national, are yet not of imperial concern. I have 
thought that to such councils might be referred the local control and adminis- 
tration which is now exercised by official Boards in Dublin and in Edinburgh, 
and by the departments of the Government in London. Perhaps that would be 
as far as it would be wise to go in the first instance ; but if these councils were 
approved, if the work were satisfactory, then I think we might hereafter even 
go further, and we might entrust to them the duty of preparing legislation — 
legislation on national, as contrasted with imperial interests. 

In an interview for the Life of C. 5. Pamell Mr. Chamberlain told 
Mr. Barry O'Brien that his idea was that the Irish Council should take 
over the administrative work of all the Boards existing in Dublin. 
It might, besides, deal with such subjects as land and education and 
other local matters. A bill passed through the Coimcil should lie on 
the table of the House of Commons for, say, forty days and then, if 
nothing was done upon it, it would become law. 'That,' said Mr. 
Barry O'Brien, ' was a bigger scheme than what one ordinarily under- 
stands by local government.' ' Certainly,' replied Mr. Chamberlain, 
' it was a very big scheme.* The fact that it was not a mere case of 
decentralization or devolution to local bodies was pointed out by Mr. 
Goschen in a letter to Mr. Gladstone. The proposed Councils, as 
he noted, were to be established ' on the very groimd of the existence 
of national differences in the United Kingdom.' ^ 

This scheme went too far for the moderate Liberals. A writer in 
the Fortnighily, in an article which Mr. Chamberlain revised, stated 
that it was assured of the support of the Nationalist leaders, but was 
rejected owing to the ' unreasonable timidity ' of the Whig members 
of the Cabinet, and Lord Eversley mentions in his book on Gladstone 
and Ireland that ' all the peers plus Lord Hartington were against the 
scheme ; all the Commoners in favour of it.' Its rejection widened 
the rift in the Ministerial lute, and increased the discontent of those 
Radical statesmen who, as we have seen, added to the troubles of a 
distressed Government in the Spring of 1885 by objecting to the 
renewal of the Crimes Act. 

A few days before the defeat of the Ministry in Jime, Mr. Chamber- 
lain urged upon his constituents the importance of giving, in Mr. 
Gladstone's words, the widest possible self-government to Ireland 
which was consistent with the maintenance of the integrity of the 
empire. ' While we have,' he said in careful phrases, ' to conciliate 
the national sentiment of Ireland, we have to find a safe mean between 
separation on the one hand — ^which would be disastrous to Ireland and 
dsmgerous to England — and on the other hand that excessive centra- 
lization which throws upon the English Parliament, and upon English 
ofl&cials the duty and burden of supervising every petty detail of Irish 
local affairs.' After the resignation of the Government his desire for 

* Life of Lord Goschen, by the Hon. Arthur D. Elliot. 



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HOME RULE 109 

reform burned fiercer than ever. It was, as he declared, a con- 
solation to Sir Charles Dilke and himself for the blow they had sus- 
tained in the House of Commons that their hands were now free, and 
that their voices might be lifted up in the cause of freedom and of 
justice. During the interregnum in which Lord Salisbury exacted 
conditions on his acceptance of office, the Radical leader advocated 
' some great measure of devolution under which the Imperial Parlia- 
ment, while maintaining its supremacy shall relegate to subordinate 
authorities the control and administration of local business.' He 
ridiculed the attempt of one nation to interfere with the domestic and 
social economy of another * whose genius it does not understand ' ; and 
he went on to say : ' I look forward with confidence to the opportunity 
which will be afforded in the new Parliament for the consideration of 
this most momentous question, and I believe that in the successful 
accomplishment of its solution lies the only hope of the pacification of 
Ireland, and of the maintenance of the strength and integrity of the 
Empire which are in danger, which are gravely compromised so long 
as an integral portion of Her Majesty's dominions can only be governed 
by exceptional legislation, and so long as it in consequence continues 
to be discontented and estranged.' 

While there was still doubt as to whether Mr. Gladstone might not 
be obliged to resiune office, Mr. Chamberlain expressed the belief that 
the pacification of Ireland depended on the concession to it of the right 
to govern itself in the matter of its purely domestic business. Lan- 
guage was used by the Radical leader on this occasion which Nation- 
alists adopted as a sort of political charter, and which they flimg back 
at him when they stood on opposite sides of the controversy. ' The 
existing S5^em of rule in Ireland,' he said, ' is a system which is 
founded on the bayonets of thirty thousand soldiers encamped per- 
manently as in a hostile country. It is a system as completely cen- 
tralized and bm-eaucratic as that with which Russia governs Poland, 
or as that which was common in Venice under the Austrian rule.' He 
spoke also of the English government in Ireland as ' a foreign govern- 
ment.' 

Over the next scene in the drama an air of mystery hovers. A visit 
to Ireland was contemplated by Mr. Chamberlain and Sir Charles Dilke, 
with the view of expounding the Radical policy and directly ascertain- 
ing the grievances and the desires of the people. At first the Nation- 
alists who were consulted were encouraging in their attitude, but soon 
after the accession of the Conservatives to office a change became 
visible in Mr. Pamell and his colleagues, and Mr. Chamberlain aban- 
doned the project because, as he afterwards asserted, the persons who 
promised him introductions to the leading members of the Roman 
Catholic hierarchy and the representatives of national opinion with- 



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no JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

drew their promises. ' I found that if I went to Ireland I should be 
boycotted.' Nationalists then pooh-poohed the affair and said the 
member for Birmingham wished to advertise himself and that he could 
go or stay as he pleased. Radicals suspected that the change in their 
mood was due to the great expectations excited by the Conservatives, 
fostered as these were by an interview which took place in a deserted 
drawing-room in Grosvenor Square between Lord Carnarvon, the 
new Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland and Mr. Pamell ; and probably the 
Nationalists and the priests ^ feared the intrusion in their own territory 
of an English statesman who, whatever might be his sympathy, 
would naturally look at the Irish question from the point of view of 
British politics. 

The abandonment of the projected visit marked the close of Mr. 
Chamberlain's championship of Home Rule. It is too much to say 
that a personal rebuff led to a sudden change in his views on a great 
question. The incident was a symptom of change rather than its 
prime cause. Undoubtedly, however, his zeal was chilled by the con- 
duct of his old Irish friends. They dispensed with his championship 
and he devoted it to other objects. 

When Mr. Pamell, excited (as Mr. Gladstone conjectured) by the 
high biddings of the Tories, raised his terms and demanded the re- 
storation of a national parliament the Radical leader declined to enter 
into the competition for his alliance. He said on September 8 that 
this new programme involved a great extension of anything that had 
been hitherto understood by Home Rule. If it were carried out we 
should, he argued, establish within less than thirty miles of oiu* own 
shores a new foreign country, animated from the outset with unfriendly 
intentions towards ourselves. A policy like that would be disastrous 
to Ireland, and dangerous to the security of this country, and in the 
circumstances he held that we were * bound to take every step in our 
power to avert so great a calamity.' This was a completely new tone. 
It revealed an attitude of hostile suspicion instead of the former 
attitude of sympathy and encouragement. The oppressed Poland 
within four hours of our shores whose genius England did not under- 
stand was to prove an unfriendly foreign country if it received a 
national parliament ! 

Diuing the election campaign the Irish question was kept by ad- 
vocates of the unauthorized programme as far as possible in the back- 
ground. British reforms — free education, allotments and small hold- 
ings, readjustment of taxation, local government in the counties — 
proved sufficient for electioneering, the cry of three-acres-and-a-cow, 
with which Mr. Chamberlain's friend, Mr. Jesse CoUings, was associated, 

^ An ex-Irish member has stated that he aroused episcopal suspicion with 
reference to the proposed visit. 



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HOME RULE iii 

specially appealing to the new electors in the rural districts. In- 
structions were issued on behalf of the Nationalist party to their 
fellow-countrymen in Great Britain to support Conservative candidates, 
and Mr. Gladstone on the other hand made a pathetic appeal for the 
retiun of ' a party totally independent of the Irish vote.' It has been 
explained that he desired an independent majority, not to resist the 
claims of Mr. Pamell but to secure the ' equitable settlement,' which 
he advocated in his manifesto. He did not obtain it. The Liberals 
had remarkable victories in the counties, but numerous defeats in the 
boroughs. The result of the election was satisfactory only to the 
Nationalists. It made them the holders of the balance in Parliament. 
There were eighty-six Home Rulers, just enough with the Conserva- 
tives to render the ill-assorted allies equal to the Liberals. 

Rumours of Mr. Gladstone's readiness to deal with the Irish question 
began to circulate in the middle of December. On the 17th the Liberal 
leader wrote in reply to an inquiry from Lord Hartington : ' I consider 
that Ireland has now spoken ; and that an effort ought to be made by 
the Government without delay to meet her demands for the manage- 
ment by an Irish legislative body of Irish, as distinct from imperial 
affairs.' Most of the members of the last Liberal Government were as 
startled as the country at large by so sudden an adoption of a new 
policy. Although Mr. Gladstone's biography has revealed the fact 
that his opinions had been tending for a considerable period in this 
direction, he had given no unmistakable public hint of the fresh mould- 
ing of his mind, and indeed, at the end of September he advised Mr. 
Childers, who wished to make an announcement in favour of Home 
Rule, not to go beyond general indications. It was believed that his 
decision was quickened and his action accelerated by the mysterious 
interview between Lord Carnarvon and Mr. Pamell, about which he 
had been told, and also by hearing that the Viceroy had informed Mr. 
McCarthy that there was a chance of the Conservative Government 
agreeing to an inquiry into Home Rule. 

What would be Mr. Chamberlain's attitude ? Would he acquiesce 
in the new policy, or would he resent its interference with his own social 
progranune ? It was popularly assiuned that, notwithstanding his 
recent coldness, he could not withhold support from any concession to 
the Irish which might be proposed by Mr. Gladstone, and this belief was 
encouraged by a reference which he made to the subject on the day 
that the first rumour was published. Speaking at the Birmingham 
Reform Club, he alluded to the Liberal leader's readiness to give to 
Ireland the largest possible nieasure of local government that could be 
proposed consistently with the integrity of the Empire and the supre- 
macy of the Crown, and he stated — ' I entirely agree with those prin- 
ciples, and I have so much faith in the experience and patriotism of 



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112 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Mr. Gladstone, that I cannot doubt that if he should ever see his way 
to propose any scheme of arrangement I shall be able conscientiously 
to give it my humble support.' At the same time he declared that in 
his judgment the time had hardly arrived when the Liberal party could 
interfere safely, or with advantage, to settle the question. This 
qualified and guarded statement was strikingly in contrast with Lord 
Hartington's emphatic protest against the new policy, which Mr. 
Gladstone rfead in The Times a few days later, ' with no small surprise.' 

One of the strange circumstances of the case was that Mr. Gladstone 
did not consult Mr. Chamberlain. Lord Granville was partly taken 
into his confidence ; he confided his ideas also to Lord Spencer and 
Lord Rosebery ; conmiimications were made to Lord Hartington, 
and indirectly to Sir William Harcourt, Lord Northbrook, and Lord 
Derby ; but Mr. Chamberlain was ignored. The well-informed Radical 
parson, whose Reminiscenceshaiye^ been already quoted in these pages,* 
mentions a report that certain politicians wrote to Mr. Gladstone 
proposing to arrange a Liberal programme, rfe sent them in return 
a sketch of the Home Ride scheme. In great alarm they went to 
him. ' Are we to make this public ? ' 'As you please.' ' Have you 
shown it to Mr. Chamberlain ? ' 'I don't care that for Mr. Chamber- 
lain.' * Will you show it to Lord Hartington ? ' 'I can answer 
for Lord Hartington.' So the story runs. It is not quite Gladstonian 
in form, but it has been confirmed by the disclosure that Mr. Chamber- 
lain wrote to Mr. Gladstone for information without getting a direct 
reply. Although the Liberal chief coidd not ' answer for ' Lord Hart- 
ington after the middle of December, his reliance on the Whigs might 
have explained his apparent indifference to their rival. He might have 
imagined that the Radicals could not withhold support from a scheme 
which was acquiesced in by the Moderates, or that if the Moderates 
supported it he could carry it without the aid of the Radical leader. 

Those who search for personal motives suspect that Mr. Gladstone 
resented the airs with which the imauthorized programme had been 
presented to the country. Although a magnanimous man, he was also a 
proud man, and he was leader in act so long as he was leader in name. 
Mr. Chamberlain had laid down the conditions on which he would take 
oifice ; he had appealed to the electors on his own proposals ; and now 
Mr. Gladstone formulated an altogether different policy. In these 
circumstances the chief preferred to take older friends into his con- 
fidence. Pride owed no debt to prudence in this matter. The coimtry, 
however, did not yet concern itself much with these personalities. 
It was generally assumed at the end of 1885 that a Home Rule scheme 
would receive no more enthusiastic support than that of the Radical 
statesman who had vehemently denounced the existing centralized 

* Reminiscences of a Radical Parson, by Rev. W. Tuckwell. 



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HOME RULE 113 

and bureaucratic system of Irish government. His mind, as his letters 
show, was still busy at this time with his own changing ideas for dealing 
with the problem. One week he suggested the adoption of the American 
Constitution ; next week he wrote ^ that if they were to give way it 
must be by calling Ireland a protected state, confining England's 
responsibility to the protection of the coimtry against foreign aggres- 
sion and providing Ireland with a Governor (empowered to dissolve 
Parliament), a Senate and a House of Conmions. 

^ Life of Henry Lahouchfe, Algar Thorold. 



s 



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XVI 
THE CROSS ROADS 

THE new Parliament which assembled on January 12, 1886, 
was the shortest and one of the most important in recent times, 
changing the fortunes of statesmen and the characters of great parties. 
Things were never again as they were when it met. From first to 
last it was a Parliament of strange, unsettling, dramatic events. It 
marked off the Parliaments which went before from those which 
followed after. It saw the introduction of a project which deeply 
influenced the politics of the coimtry for a quarter of a century, it saw 
two sections lopped off from the Liberal party, and it saw several of the 
leading men in that party forsaking old colleagues and seeking new 
comrades. And the statesman whom it most affected was Mr. Cham- 
berlain. It was, in a special sense, the turning-point of his career. 
As the Conservatives, who relied, tiQ the elections were over, on the 
ordinary law in Ireland, were again devising coercion, and as Mr. 
-Gladstone, on the other hand, was willing to examine the demand now 
made through five-sixths of her representatives for a national legis- 
lature, Mr. Pamell and his followers arranged to vote with the Liberals 
in order to turn out the Salisbury Government which they had brought 
into existence seven months previously. The instrument chosen was 
not an Irish motion, but an amendment submitted by Mr. Jesse CoUings 
in favour of the scheme of allotments and small holdings, popularly 
known as the policy of three-acres-and-a-cow. Mr. Gladstone having 
•supported the amendment, Mr. Goschen ironically congratulated his 
' triumphant friend,' the member for West Birmingham,^ on the ofl&cias 
adoption of this item of the unauthorized programme, and Mr. Arthur 
Balfour described the debate as the concluding scene of a drama acted 
•during the previous six months, in which the Whig and the Radical 
had been struggling over the body of the Liberal leader. Neither 
Mr. Balfour nor his colleagues imagined that the Radical might become 
their ally. Mr. Chaplin and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach scolded him 
for the ' mischievous,' the ' astounding,' promises he had given to the 
agricultural labourers. ' It is,' said Sir Michael, who was then leader 
of the House, ' of a piece with his past conduct that he should use 

1 Birmingham was divided into seven constituencies under the Redistribu- 
^on Act and Mr. Chamberlain was returned for the West Division. 

114 



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THE CROSS ROADS 115 

this motion as a party move to turn the Government out of office.' 
Although Lord Hartington and a group of his Whig followers, 
knowing what lay behind this movement, voted with the Conservatives, 
and a larger section of Liberals took no part in the division, the three- 
acres-and-a-cow amendment was carried by a majority of seventy-nine. 
Lord Salisbury consequently resigned, and the way was cleared by Mr. 
Chamberlain for the return to power of a statesman who was sym- 
pathetically considering the demand for Home Rule. His own dis- 
position to govern Ireland according to Irish ideas was shown by an 
article in the Fortnightly, in which it was recommended that Mr. Pamell 
or Mr. Healy should be invited to become Chief Secretary. ' Mr. 
Pamell himself,' the writer said, ' should be challenged in the interests 
of his constituents, to take up the burden of office, and to co-operate 
with English statesmen in the solution of a problem — (the land question) 
— ^which lies at the root of Irish misery and Irish discontent. ... If 
the leader of the Irish party shrinks from this responsibility, as his 
enemies proclaim that he wiU, an offer should be made, in turn, to 
other chiefs of the National party, some of whom, and notably Mr. 
Healey,^ have shown a remarkable constructive capacity and resource.' 
The article was signed merely ' A Radical/ but Mr. Morley in a speech 
a few months after its appearance attributed the authorship to Mr. 
Chamberlain. His suggestion as to the Chief Secretaryship was not 
carried out. The post was given, not to an Irish Nationalist, but to 
Mr. Morley, who devoted heart and brain to Mr. Gladstone's service. 

Again, as in 1880, there were surmises and speculations with re- 
gard to Mr. Chamberlain's position. On the formation of the former 
Liberal Government politicians had wondered if he would receive 
office. Now they wondered what post he would take. Six years had 
left deep marks on the Liberal party, and while time had destroyed 
several reputations it had raised Mr. Chamberlain to the rank of a 
leader who might expect to make his own terms. With the Caucus 
he assisted to secure the victory of 1880 ; with the imauthorized pro- 
gramme he enabled the Liberals to regain office in the new Parliament. 
No position seemed beyond the reach of the statesman who stood 
second only to Mr. Gladstone in the esteem of the party throughout 
the coimtry. Nevertheless he accepted a secondary post. 

The office which he was offered by the Prime Minister was that of 
First Lord of the Admiralty, but this he dedined on the plea that 
' it was hardly congenial or consistent with a Radical's position that 
he should occupy the headship of one of the great spending and fighting 
offices of the State.' • He preferred to go to the Local Government 

* Mr. Healy's name was, strange to say, spelt wrongly in the article. ^ 

* It was through the doors of the Admiralty that his son entered the official 
arena. 



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Ii6 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Board, because there he might be able to do something to cany out the 
poUcy which he supported before the General Election. In taking this 
post, which had been occupied for half a year by Mr. Arthur Balfour, 
he proved his disregard for money, the salary attached to it being then 
only £2,000 as compared with £5,000 in the case of the First Lordship 
of the Admiralty. Some of his critics, however, said he was so rich 
that a few thousands did not matter much, and others convinced 
themselves in the light of after events that he foresaw he would not 
draw any salary very long. 

Was Mr. Chamberlain disappointed ? The popular impression at 
the time is recorded in An Autobiography by Dr. Guinness Rogers, who, 
although a whole-hearted supporter of the Home Rule Scheme, admits 
that if Mr. Gladstone had been a little disposed to recognize his remark- 
able ability, the Liberal party might have been saved from the 
terrible disaster which followed. Mr. Sexton asserted in the House 
of Conmions, in 1886, that the Radical leader desired the Secretaryship 
for the Colonies, and Lord Granville subsequently expressed a doubt, 
as Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice states in his biography, whether he 
himself had adopted a wise course in accepting that office because he 
arrived at the conclusion that Mr. Chamberlain might have occupied 
it, and that in that event some of Mr. Gladstone's subsequent difficulties 
might have been diminished or modified. If the member for West 
Birmingham was ambitious to be Colonial Secretary he waited for nine 
years to gratify his ambition. Mr. Gladstone appears to have heard 
that he coveted the Irish Secretaryship which could not at that time be 
given to him without irritating the Nationalists who had lost confi- 
dence in their former friend. On the other hand Mr. Morley remarks 
that he was not much concerned about the particular office. ' What- 
ever its place in the hierarchy, he knew that he could trust himself to 
make it as important as he pleased.'^ 

On account of the attitude which he adopted a few weeks later, 
Mr. Chamberlain's acceptance of office was much canvassed. Lord 
Hartington, Mr. Goschen and Sir Henry James dedined to join the 
Government, the last-named exciting the surprise of all who held a 
low view of the political convictions of Parliamentary lawyers by his 
self-denial in refusing the Lord Chancellorship as well as the Home 
Secretaryship. The conduct of these statesmen was afterwards 
contrasted favourably with Mr. Chamberlain's. His critics asserted 
that he must have known that he could not remain in the Government, 
and that he entered it to spy out the policy of the Prime Minister. 
This was an insinuation which he resented. When offered office, 
he frankly expressed doubt as to whether in view of Mr. Gladstone's 

^ Life of Gladsions, 



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THE CROSS ROADS 117 

intentions with regard to Ireland, he could be of service in the new 
Administration. According to his judgment it would not be found 
possible to reconcile the conditions which the Prime Minister had laid 
down as to the security of the Empire and the supremacy of Parlia- 
ment with the estabUshment of a national legislative body sitting in 
Dublin, and he indicated his own preference for an attempt to come 
to terms with the Irish members on the basis of a more Umited scheme 
of local government, coupled with proposals for a settlement of the 
land, and perhaps also of the education question. Being assured, 
however, that he would have 'unlimited liberty of judgment and 
rejection ' on any scheme that might be proposed, and declaring 
his readiness to give an unprejudiced examination to the more exten- 
sive proposals that might be made, he accepted a place in the Govern- 
ment. The conditions of his acceptance he set out in a letter to 
* My dear Mr. Gladstone,' on January 30, and he informed the House 
of Conunons that all that the Prime Minister asked his colleagues 
to do was to join with him in an inquiry and examination as to how 
far it was or was not practicable to meet the wishes of the great 
proportion of the Irish people, to form something in the nature of a 
legislative body sitting in Dublin. ' I told the Prime Minister that 
this was an inquiry of which I approved, and which indeed I thought 
had become indisj)ensable.' 

At Downing Street the President of the Local Government Board 
found congenial company. While the moderate Liberals, with whom 
he had waged war, were absent. Sir William Harcourt had become 
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Rosebery was Foreign Secretary, 
Mr. Campbell-Bannerman Secretary for War, and his fellow-fighter 
in the ShefGield contest, Mr. Munddla, was President of the Board of 
Trade. Among other personal friends was Mr. Morley, who began an 
official career in circumstances trying to Mr. Chamberlain. Their lives 
had touched at many points. Twelve or thirteen years had passed 
since the then editor of the Fortnightly made the acquaintance of the 
aspiring Birmingham politician ; he had more recently advocated in 
the Pall MaU Gazette the policy pursued by the Radical leader, and 
when Mr. Chamberlain introduced him to the House in 1883, they 
looked forward to intimate association in its work. Each liked, 
admired and respected the other. Mr. Chamberlain, praising Mr. Mor- 
ley in April, 1885, said his Life of Burke would ' make us regret that 
he had ever left the pleasant paths of literature for the thorny road of 
politics, if he had not given us some evidence that in his new career 
he. will do as great or even more signal service than in his old 
one.' Now in a sense they were rivals — rivals for influence over Mr. 
Gladstone, or at any rate rivals in shaping Liberal policy. Tennid 
depicted them in the ' Pas de Fascination.' Signor Gladstonio dances 



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ii8 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

with Madame Josephine and Signorina Morleena ; and to the latter 
he gives the bouquet. 

The veteran in old age was drawn to the man of letters, from whom 
he differed sharply on some of the highest themes. It was peculiarly 
true in their case, according to the Carlyle formula, that except in 
opinion they did not disagree. When they agreed in opinion also 
their personal sympathy rendered their union very close and touching. 
Mr. Morley loved the ' grand old man ' with an affection which grew 
with intimacy, and his career was henceforth intertwined with Mr. 
Gladstone's. In the company of the skilled veteran he was an active, 
animated, confident, powerful Parliamentarian ; when Mr. Glad- 
stone retired, Mr. Morley became silent, less sanguine, more indined 
to live apart. It was in 1886 perhaps that he made the greatest 
impress on political history, for then he did much to sway the Prime 
Minister and to shape the most important measure of our time. Then 
unfortunately his relations with his old Radical friend became strained. 

A glimpse into the inner hfe of the Cabinet soon after it was formed 
has been given by Mr. Chamberlain. Having an interview with the 
Prime Minister, he ventured to say to him : ' Mr. Gladstone, I sup- 
pose you are now conducting the inquiry into the demands of the Irish 
members which you have undertaken to make. I do not know at 
what conclusion you have arrived, but I think it my duty to tell you 
what is my honest and sincere conviction if you should decide to intro- 
duce a measure to establish a separate Parliament in Ireland. You 
wiD be beaten in the House of Conunons, and you will be beaten in 
the country.' Mr. Gladstone said to him, with all the emphasis which 
he used when he was interested in a subject : ' I shall never go to the 
country upon this subject. I do not know at what conclusion — I have 
not made up my mind — I ought to arrive. But if it should be the one 
you indicate I wiD put my views and propositions before the House of 
Commons, and accept their decision. But I would never appeal to the 
country on such a matter. I would not take that responsibility, 
knowing it would break up the Liberal party, that it would dissolve 
old friendshij^ and be a calamity.' This conversation proved a lack 
of confidence. Mr. Gladstone subsequently informed the House that 
long before the Home Rule scheme was submitted to the Cabinet 
' the subject of the BiQ, and its leading details, had been matter of 
anxious consideration between himself and his nearest poUtical friends.' 
Among these Mr. Chamberlain was not included. When the time came 
to speak out he complained bitterly that the Prime Minister did not 
even take his colleagues into his confidence. Liberals justfied this 
reticence in his own case on the ground that he was an unsympathetic 
member of the Government ; but he was there on the invitation of its 
chief. 



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THE CROSS ROADS ii^ 

On March 13 a Home Rule Bill was mentioned in the Cabinet, and 
events marched rapidly to the catastrophe. Rumour of Ministerial 
dissension became the daily excitement of politicians. One day they 
learned that Mr. Chamberlain had resigned ; next day a compromise 
was reported ; and on the third day a rupture was declared inevitable ; 
and thus the imcertainty was maintained. Rumour proved a more 
reliable jade than usual. Resignation was tendered, withheld, and 
finally insisted upon. On March 15, inunediately after definite Irish 
proposals were formulated in the Cabinet, Mr. Chamberlain offered 
to resign. A scheme of land purchase which was submitted would,, 
in his opinion, conmiit the British taxpayer to tremendous obliga- 
tions, accompanied with serious risk of ultimate loss. He gathered 
also that the Prime Minister was now convinced of the necessity of 
conceding a separate legislative assembly to Ireland with fuU powers 
to deal with all Irish affairs, and to tUs policy he opposed his own 
public utterances and conscientious convictions, but as he explained 
to the House of Commons, he ' did not resign upon the scheme of Home 
Rule alone ' ; he tendered his resignation in consequence of the pro- 
duction of the Land Bill. At the Prime Minister's request he postponed 
the decisive step, but when Mr. Gladstone made a statement to the 
Cabinet on the Home Rule scheme on March 26, he repeated his 
resignation and it was accepted the next day. 

Thus Mr. Chamberlain was scarcely two months in the Government, 
and apparently he had not been at any time within its inner circle. 
So far as the evidence of speeches and published letters goes Mr. 
Gladstone took no great pains to conciliate him. The masterful 
chief may have considered that the ideas of his colleague could not be 
merged in his own. Either the one or the other must prevail. Mr. 
Gladstone proceeded upon his own course, and Mr. Chamberlain parted 
from him for ever. 

Now and again the Radical statesman appeared to look back, 
but he never turned. The Liberals lost in him a pohtician of amazing 
resource and dexterity, a matchless electioneer, and a debater who 
in the modem style has never been surpassed. On his own part he lost 
irrecoverably the succession to the Liberal leadership. The breach 
which was begun in 1886 gradually widened, and while the majority 
of the party treated Mr. Chamberlain as a deserter, he assisted in 
driving the followers of Mr. Gladstone into the wilderness and in- 
keeping them there many years. 



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XVII 
THE QUARREL 

FROM resignation to attack on political colleagues the journey is 
as a rule tragically short. ' Political friendships, when paths 
diverge are,' as Lord Rosebery has testified, ' more difficult to 
maintain than men themselves realize at the moment of separation.' 
Lamentable bitterness was displayed in the controversies between Mr. 
Chamberlain and old comrades, and some of those who had been 
most closely attached to him reviled him most. Their familiar 
accusation, in the words of Sir William Harcourt, was that ' he had 
no objections to Home Rule but objected to Mr. Gladstone carrjdng 
it out.' ' His grievance,' said an Irish member to his face, ' is that 
he is not Prime Minister of England.' This taunt was revived as 
late as 1905 by Mr. Labouchere, who may have forgotten that he did 
his best to puff up Mr. Chamberlain in 1885 by reports of his popu- 
larity. 'In his Radical days,' wrote the owner of TnUh, 'he was 
somewhat jealous of Mr. Gladstone, and somewhat disposed to rebel 
against his great influence with the Liberal party. When, therefore, 
Mr. Gladstone declared himself in favour of Home Rule, his Ueutenant 
declared himself against it.' The imputation of jealousy started by 
a section of poUticians living in a heated party atmosphere was 
sorrowfully repeated by many simple Radical electors, who were 
imable to reconcile the action of Mr. Chamberlain with the former 
speeches of the man in whom they had placed so much hope. His 
adherents, on the other hand, pointed out that if he were really a 
self-seeking monster influenced by personal ambition and dominated 
by desire to grasp the highest position, he must have made a mis- 
calculation which would be inconceivable in so clever a tactician, 
seeing that if he had remained with Mr. Gladstone he would have 
been his successor and that by separating himself from the Govern- 
ment he forfeited his heritage. To this his critics retorted that he 
had been carried away by the success of his unauthorized programme, 
that he was in too great a hurry to seize the leadership, and that he 
still expected to secure the support of the mass of the Radicals. 

No sooner was he out of the Government at the end of March, 
1886, than he discussed his views and plans with Lord Randolph 
Churchill who, as a democrat in sympathy with some of his aspira- 

120 



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THE QUARREL 121 

tions, formed a link between the arch-Radical and the Conservatives. 
' The two men dined together often,' as we learn from Mr. Churchill ; 
' they corresponded freely, they consulted almost every day.' Lord 
Randolph kept the Marquis of Salisbury informed as to ' the great 
Joe,' ' my friend Joe,' and ' Joe's conversation,' so that the Tory chief 
was familiar with the outline of Mr. Gladstone's scheme before it was 
introduced. It appeared that from the middle of February till his 
resignation at the end of March, ' Joe ' had not exchanged a word 
with his colleague, Mr. John Morley. But while off with his old love, 
he was not yet on with the new. There was naturally a want of 
confidence between himself and the Whig leader. Lord Hartington 
was ' rather fluttered, for fear he should be cut out by Chamberlain 
taking the lead,' and the services of the Tory democrat (who himself 
showed an absence of personal jealousy) were required in order to 
secure an arrangement between the two Liberal statesmen even as 
to the order of debate. ' I am certain,' he wrote to the Radical 
Unionist, ' Hartington means nothing but what is right and fair to- 
wards you, but you know there are one or two round him who are 
very jealous of you.' Lord Randolph Churchill also assured Mr. 
Chamberlain that he had many friends among the Conservatives 
and at the same time encouraged the latter to put trust in their former 
adversary. He persuaded his ' friend Joe ' and Lord Salisbury to 
meet. The Turf Club was the neutral groimd selected. 'Thither 
Lord Salisbury repaired — ^not, as it appears, without trepidation 
and misgivings — ^and in the little dingy downstairs room where visitors 
are received was begun that strange alliance afterwards so powerfully 
to affect the course of history.' * 

The pain of * a separation from one whom I have followed and 
honoured for so many years ' was alluded to by Mr. Chamberlain in 
the debate on the first reading of the Home Rule Bill. Mr. Gladstone 
introduced it on April 8. Next day his resigned Radical colleague 
rose from the comer of the second bench below the gangway — ^the 
comer usually occupied by Mr. Bright. Across the gangway sat 
Lord Hartington in the place left vacant by Mr. Forster, who died 
four days before the victorious opponent of his administration ex- 
plained his own dissent from a later development of Irish policy. 
Aroimd Mr. Chamberlain were sore and sorrowing friends ; NationaUsts 
on the opposite side scowled at him ; Ministers on the Treasury 
bench were vigilant ; occupants of the front Opposition bench, who 
had been bruised by his numerous blows, watched the strange scene 
with piquant curiosity and satisfaction. It was suggested that, ob- 
serving the onslaught made by the Roderigo of Birmingham upon 

» Lord Randolph Churchill, by W, S. ChurchiU. 



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122 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Mr. Gladstone, the Cassio of Midlothian, Lord Randolph Churchill 

might say — 

Now, whether he kill Cassio 

Or Cassio him, or each do kill the other. 

Every way makes my gain. 

The key to Mr. Chamberlain's daim to consistency lay in his 
contention that Mr. Gladstone's scheme mesint separation and not 
Home Rule. Reviewing Mr. Churchill's biography of his father in 
January, 1906, the Athenaum, which was owned by Sir Charles Dilke, 
stated that the phrase * Home Rule ' was used among politicians 
before July, 1885, in a wholly different sense from that in which it 
has been used since the early part of 1886. The phrase in the former 
period, it appears, stood for milder schemes than an Irish parliament ; 
and ' with this key,' the writer said, ' it is possible to unlock the secrets 
of the early summer of 1885.' Mr. Chamberlain's own Home Rule, 
however, was not a mild affair. He had suggested a National Council 
for Ireland, a system based on the American Constitution, the making 
of Ireland a protected state with a Governor, a Senate and a House 
of Commons, and also a process of federation on the Canadian pattern. 

At the crisis in 1886 Mr. Chamberlain was still unashamed of 
the name of Home Ruler, and he did not yet treat the difference with 
his old friends as involving a permanent schism in the party. On 
April 16, while specially attacking the Land Purchase Bill, but referring 
generally to Irish policy, he expressed the hope that his separation 
from Mr. Gladstone might be for only a short time. ' I am not an 
irreconcilable opponent,' he said, amid the loud cheers of Liberals 
who thought they saw signs of repentance. 

This utterance was specially significant, in view of the fact that 
two days previously in Her Majesty's Opera House Lord Hartington 
and other Whig opponents of Home Rule had stood on the same 
political platform as Lord Salisbury. In the first visible aUiance 
between the two parties Mr. Chamberlain did not take any part. 
Indeed he told his Liberal fellow-townsmen at Easter that his opposi- 
tion to the bill was only conditional. ' If certain alterations were 
made, all the anomalies which I have described to you, most of the 
objections which I have taken, would disappear.' He emphatically 
declared his party loyalty. ' I am not going,' he said, ' to enter 
any cave ; I am not going to join any coalition of discordant elements 
and parties.' Mr. Linley Samboume in Punch depicted him at dinner 
at the Conservative leader's in Arlington Street. Lord SaUsbury, 
assisting him to Irish stew, says : ' If you'll come to me, I'll give you 
my receipt for the dish.' ' No, thank you, my lord,' replies Mr. 
Chamberlain ; ' there's such a lot of pepper in it that it quite over- 
powers the pleasant flavour of the Union.' He thought, rather. 



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THE QUARREL 123 

that for a time he would have to occupy a solitary position, remarking 
to a friend that ' if the worst comes to the worst I can always go back 
to my private life.' ^ 

On one point Mr. Gladstone corroborated his personal vindication. 
It had been suggested that he joined the Government with the pre- 
conceived determination to leave it at the first opportimity. ' That 
statement/ Mr. Chamberlain warmly declared, * is not only untrue 
but it is ridiculous,* and the Prime Minister uttered a distinct 
' hear, hear.' Similar generosity was not shown by all from whom 
he differed. Mr. Healy, for instance, accused him of trying to deal a 
deadly blow at Mr. Gladstone, and with equal bitterness on another 
occasion denoimced him as the ally of the Tories, the confederate of 
the Whigs, the deserter of his party. Day after day, and in every 
Irish debate, he was told by Radicals as well as by Nationalists that 
in retiring from the Government and in opposing the Home Rule 
Bill he was animated by personal spite and spleen. 

A crisis in Mr. Chamberlain's connexion with Birmingham occurred 
at the meeting of the Liberal Two Thousand, on April 21. There was 
a struggle for the local mastery between himself and the representa- 
tives of the ofGicial Liberal party. Many of those present were divided 
between allegiance to the head of the party and confidence in the 
fellow-citizen of whom they were so proud. Mr. Chamberlain, while 
professing conciliatory sentiments on the principle of Home Rule, 
criticized Mr. Gladstone's two Irish measiu^s with great dexterity 
and power. A sale motion which Mr. Schnadhorst submitted, declar- 
ing that he had been guided by a high sense of personal honour and 
of public duty, was passed with enthusiasm, and then a struggle in 
tactics took place. Those who desired to prevent any breach with 
Mr. Gladstone pressed for an adjournment on the question of princi- 
ple, but the resigned minister, recognizing that the meeting was with 
him, appealed for an inunediate decision. ' Hitherto,' he said, ' you 
men of Birmingham have led the van. ... I ask you for guidajice 
and counsel.' Dr. Dale pleaded that they had not been accustomed 
to force a vote, but Mr. Jesse Collings rejoined that it was not the 
practice of Birmingham to wait. As usual, Mr. Chamberlain pre- 
vailed and, striking while the iron was hot, he received a vote of 
confidence from an overwhelming majority. Thus he committed the 
Association to his course. 

Testimony to his disinterestedness was given in a conciliatory 
speech by Dr. Dale. ' I do not believe,' he said with a rather sorrowful 
heart, 'that Mr. Chamberlain could have honourably remained in 
the Cabinet. But I protest — ^I protest most earnestly — against those 
who treat this great subject as though it were a question whether 
» Memoirs of Fifty Years, Lady St. Helier. 



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124 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

we should follow the leadership of Mr. Chamberlain or of Mr. Glad- 
stone. We need them both.' The high-minded preacher went on to 
remark that * the Liberal party had a right to demand Mr. Chamber- 
lain's judgment at such a time as this — his frank and honest judg- 
ment. He has given it. He would have been a traitor to us, a traitor 
to his chief, a traitor to his country, if he had not given it frankly.' 
In a letter to Mr. Gladstone, who thanked him for his friendly utter- 
ance. Dr. Dale wrote : ' I need not say how great a grief it is to me 
that Mr. Chamberlain should have been bound in honour — ^as I think 
he was — ^to leave the Ministry at such a time as this. I have worked 
with him for eighteen years, and though, of course, I have seen less 
of him since he became a minister, our relations, which have often 
been extremely intimate, have been maintained. As the result of his 
temperament, education and environment — all so different from 
your own — ^he was certain to approach nearly every poUtical question 
with different assumptions, and in a different spirit, and to deal 
with them in a different method. But I know that when he entered 
the Ministry he was drawn to you very strongly, and it seems to 
me a calamity that his future political life should miss the benefit it 
would derive from continued work under your leadership.' 

When personal and political ties were snapping under the strain 
of the dissensions which had been raised, Mr. Chamberlain entreated 
his constituents so to continue the discussion that when the time of 
trial was passed they might once more unite, without embittered 
memories, without unkind reflections, to carry forward the great 
work upon which hitherto they had been unanimous. The appeal 
was made in vain. Example was called for rather than precept. 
One side threw the responsibility on the other, but whichever was to 
blame, the fact certainly was that the dispute was conducted by both 
sections with fierce vehemence and intense bitterness. Mr. Chamber- 
lain was irritated by aspersions on his motives, and on the other hand 
many of his old friends were exasperated by the cheers which he 
courted from the Tories who so recently had denounced him as a 
danger to the State. Those who, Uke Dr. Dale, tried to follow both 
leaders foimd that they were going in different directions. 

Doubt was subsequently cast by Mr. Chamberlain himself on the 
sincerity of his conciliatory professions. Although he opposed the 
scheme for bu3ang out the Irish landlords and creating a peasant 
proprietary he believed that in principle this was the right way to 
settle the agrarian question. His main object, he confessed, was to 
kill the Home Rule Bill. Still he felt the necessity of keeping up 
appearances for the sake of his friends in the country. A cynical 
view of his attitude as well as Mr. Gladstone's is presented in a letter 
written by Lord Randolph Churchill on the morrow of the Land 



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THE QUARREL 125 

Purchase debate. ' Gladstone/ Lord Randolph said, ' is pretending 
to make up to Joe, in order to pass his bill ; and Joe is pretending 
to make up to Gladstone, in order to throw out his bill. Diamond 
cut diamond.' 

As long, however, as the bill was before the House of Commons 
and the country, Mr. Chamberlain continued to indicate that his 
opposition was conditional. In this respect he differed from Lord 
Hartington, whose opposition was* fundamental. On May 6 the 
Radical statesman wrote that ' the key of the position was to maintain 
the representation of Ireland in the imperial Parliament and her full 
responsibility for all imperial affairs.' This ' key ' he abandoned 
seven years later, but in the first conflict he expressed the hope that 
if the concession which is suggested were made the ' imminent danger 
of a fatal breach in the ranks of the Liberal party might be happily 
averted.' 

Negotiations were carried on through the medium of Mr. Labou- 
chere, an old Radical admirer, who was still anxious that Mr. 
Chamberlain should be ' the EUsha of the aged Elijah,' and at one 
point the issue seemed hopeful. Mr. Chamberlain gathered from the 
go-between on May 8 that the retention of the Irish members was to be 
granted. At any rate he assumed that the concession was made and 
he sent a telegram to several friends announcing the ' surrender ' of the 
Prime Minister. This indiscretion led to anxious inquiries at Downing 
Street, and the reply obtained was treated as a contradiction. There 
was suspicion on both sides. Members of the Government resented 
what they considered an attempt on Mr. Chamberlain's part to coerce 
them and he in turn was sceptical as to their disposition to meet him. 

The Whig and Radical opponents of the bill were gradually organ- 
ized for the purpose of imited resistance. As the struggle proceeded 
the Radical leader entered into dose consultation with the Whig 
statesman with whom he had a few months previously conducted a 
stiff and stem dispute with regard to the whole tendency of Liberal 
policy. Together they planned the defeat of their common chief. 
On May 12 fifty-two members met Mr. Chamberlain in conference. 
Next day Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman stated on behalf of the 
Government in the House of Conunons that they were willing to 
' consider with the most friendly mind all suggestions that might be 
made for enabling the Irish members to take part in our discussions/ 
but Mr. Chamberlain was quite dissatisfied with this intimation. When 
he heard it he tore up the notes which he had taken and walked out. 
On the 14th he attended a meeting at Devonshire House where sixty-four 
Liberals assembled, and hostile arrangements were continued by 
the two sections of ' dissentients.' Social influences were effectively 
employed on the Unionist side. Statesmen who had hitherto ignored 



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126 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

obscure members now stooped to * lobby ' and solicit support. The 
combined influence of Whig and Radical proved formidable. 

One severe check, however, was sustained by Mr. Chamberlain. 
The Caucus, which had been so powerful an instrument in his hands, 
turned against him. At a meeting of the Council of the National 
Liberal Federation on May 15 his Birmingham friends were defeated, 
and an amendment was carried by averylai|[e majority approving of 
the bill and assuring Mr. Gladstone of earnest support. Having to 
choose between the old leader and the younger politician who had 
taken the most conspicuous part in its foundation it stood by the 
former, and at the same time the experienced organizer, Mr. Schnad- 
horst, who had been associated with Mr. Chamberlain in many move- 
ments, threw in his lot with the Prime Minister. 

While debate on the second reading was conducted in a great 
style, and while negotiations were still flickering, an adroit suggestion 
by Mr. Gladstone weakened for a time the position of the Radical 
Unionists. At a meeting of the Liberal party on May 27 the Prime 
Minister said that all that the Government desired at that stage 
was to establish the principle of the Bill and if the second reading 
were passed it woidd be withdrawn and a new measure introduced in 
an autumn session. In a sharp debate the Conservatives brought 
into prominence the fact that the promise of reconstruction applied 
only to the clauses dealing with the position of the Irish representatives ; 
but as this was the section on which the opposition of Radical Unionists 
bad been concentrated, Mr. Chamberlain appeared to be afraid that 
he might not in the new circumstances carry his friends with him into 
the lobby against the Bill. In a letter to Lord Randolph, quoted by 
Mr. Chiu'chill, he stated reasons which made for abstention instead 
of a hostile vote. His Tory friend wrote imploring him to stick to 
his gims. Everything, he replied, would turn on the meeting of his 
followers. 

The decision of the members acting with Mr. Chamberlain was 
influenced — and the fate of the BiU determined, to a great degree — ^by 
a letter from Mr. Bright. Although Bright had been on the popular 
Irish side during the greater part of his life, his sympathy was to some 
extent chilled by the obstruction and crime associated with the Parnel- 
lite movement and by the attacks made upon himself for supporting 
coercion. He thought that the Home Ride Bill would cause constant 
friction between the two countries and that it would be better for the 
Parliament at Westminster to go on trying by good laws to remove 
Irish grievances. His personal regard for Mr. Gladstone withheld 
him from taking a conspicuous part in opposition to the Bill, and for 
a short time his views were not precisely known, but in response to a 
request, he wrote a letter which was produced at a meeting attended 



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THE QUARREL 127 

by fifty-four members, with Mr. Chamberlain in the chair, on May 31. 
To this meeting were simimoned all ' who being in favour of some 
sort of autonomy in Ireland disapprove of the Government Bills in 
their present shape/ and it was held in Conunittee Room, No. 15, 
celebrated in a later Irish controversy. 

For Mr. Bright 's letter a newspaper manager offered £100 to Mr. 
W. S. Caine, the Radical Unionist Whip, but it was not communicated 
to the press. The statement was made, and frequently repeated in 
after years, that Mr. Caine merely indicated the contents of the docu- 
ment to the meeting and that he then tore it up. This assertion, 
however, was declared by Mr. Austen Chamberlain in 1913 to be un- 
founded, and a few weeks after his denial the letter, which had been 
preserved among his father's papers, was published in Mr. G. M. 
Trevelj^an's biography of Mr. Bright. In this famous document 
Mr. Bright wrote that his own intention was to vote against the 
second reading, but that he was not willing to take the responsibility 
of advising others. ' If they can,' he said, ' content themselves with 
abstaining from the division I shall be glad.' The different reports of 
the letter given by Liberals in after years showed how varied were the 
impressions derived from it. Some of Mr. Gladstone's adherents who 
heard of it said it was misinterpreted or misunderstood. There is no 
doubt, however, that the determining point in it was the intimation 
that Mr. Bright 's own intention was to vote against the second reading. 
His example rather than his advice was followed. Four of the 
members at the meeting wished to abstain and three were prepared to 
support the second reading, but after a second vote a resolution to 
oppose it was adopted with practical unanimity. 

On hearing of the effect of his letter Mr. Bright expressed surprise 
and regret to friends at the Reform Club, and he wrote to Mr. Chamber- 
lain on the first of June offering, if not too late, to join with him 
in abstaining in order to avert a dissolution. It was, however, too 
late. The doubts of waverers had been removed when they learned of 
Mr. Bright's intention to vote against the Bill. With him in the 
hostile lobby, they would not be afraid to strike. Their decision, 
moreover, was what Mr. Chamberlain desired. He meant sooner or 
later to kill Gladstonian Home Rule. 

On the day after the fateful meeting Mr. Chamberlain, in the 
course of the second reading debate made piquant allusion to his own 
position. ' There is not,' he said, * a man here who does not know that 
every personal and political interest would lead me to cast in my lot 
with the Prime Minister. Why, sir, not a day passes in which I do 
not receive dozens or scores of letters lu-ging me, for my own sake, to 
vote for the Bill and dish the Whigs ! Well, sir, the temptation is no 
doubt a great one, but after all I am not base enough to serve my 



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128 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

personal ambition by betraying my country.' His critics retorted 
that he was at this point desirous not of dishing the Whigs but of 
dishing Mr. Gladstone. According to his own statement, however, he 
was reluctantly forced into a hostile attitude by the sincere conviction 
that Mr. Gladstone's proposals would weaken the supremacy of the 
imperial Parliament. He made an important qualification. ' It is,' 
he explained, ' upon the method and plan of the Bill that we are 
going to the coimtry, and not upon its principle. I have said it before, 
and I say it again : give me the principle without the Bill and I will 
vote for it.' This view of the issue only confirmed the suspicion of 
the ofi&cial Liberals that what he objected to was not the scheme but 
its author. 

A final and flattering appeal was addressed to Mr. Chamberlain 
in a letter written by Mr. Labouchere on behalf of a large number of 
Radical members who had always looked to him as ' the leader of their 
phase of political thought.' The issue, as they believed, was entirely in 
his hands, and they dreaded a General Election without him on their 
side. * When Achilles retiuned to his tent the Greeks were defeated ; 
what would it have been,' asked Mr. Labouchere, ' had Achilles lent 
the weight of his arm to the Trojans ? ' Mr. Chamberlain was not 
turned aside by the appeal. His reply to ' My dear Labouchere ' was 
prompt and emphatic. ' We are ready,' he wrote, ' to accept as a 
principle the expediency of establishing some kind of legislative 
authority in Ireland, subject to the conditions which Mr, Gladstone 
himself has laid down, but we honestly believe that none of these con- 
ditions are satisfactorily secured by the plan which has been placed 
before us.' 

Mr. Gladstone's reply to Mr. Chamberlain at the end of the second 
reading debate, delivered in a tone of irony with a touch of scorn, 
dealt with the indefiniteness of his attitude. The Radical leader had 
boasted that a dissolution had no terrors for him. 

* I do not wonder at it ' (said Mr. Gladstone). * I do not see how a dissolu- 
tion can have any terrors for him. He has trimmed his vessel, and he has touched 
his rudder in such a masterly way that in whichever direction the winds of 
heaven may blow, they must fill his sails. Supposing that at an election pubUc 
opinion should be very strong in favour of the Bill, my right honourable Mend 
would then be perfectly prepared to meet that public opinion, and tell it " I 
declared strongly that I adopted the principle of the Bill." On the other hand, 
if public opinion were very adverse to the Bill he again is in complete armour 
because he says, " Yes, I voted against the Bill." Supposing again public opinioo 
is in favour of a very large plan for Ireland, my right honourable friend is per- 
fectly provided for that case also. The Government plan was not large enough 
for lum, and he proposed in his speech on the introduction of the BiU that we 
should have a measure on the baas of federation, which goes beyond this Bill. 
Lastly — and now I have very nearly boxed the compass — supposing that puVlic 
opinion should take quite a different turn, and instead of wanting very large 
measures for Ireland should demand very smaU measures for Ireland, still ii» 
resources of my right honourable friend are not exhausted, because he is thea 



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THE QUARREL 129 

able to point out that the last of his plans was for four provincial circuits con- 
trolled ^m London.' All these alternatives and provisions were, in Mr. Glad- 
stone's opinion, ' creations of the vivid imagination, bom of the hour and perishing 
with the hour, totally unavailable for the solution of a great and difficult problem/ 

The fatal division on the night of June 7 placed the Government 
in a minority of thirty. As many as ninety-three Liberals voted against 
the Bill, among them being Mr. Bright, the venerated friend of 
Gladstone, Lord Hartington, Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Goschen and 
Sir Henry James, as well as Sir George Trevelyan, who had taken 
office and had resigned. 

' Judas ! ' ' Traitor ! ' cried the Nationalists, as they glared across 
the House at the member for West Birmingham, while the Conser- 
vatives cheered for the second time within twelve months at the down- 
fall of a Gladstone Administration. The feelings of the defeated 
were expressed elsewhere in a dramatic style by Mr. Morley, who, 
deploring the fatal attack on the Liberal chief by former associates 
and colleagues, quoted from the funeral oration of Mark Antony over 
the mantle of the great Casar : — 

Look 1 in this place, ran Cassius' dagger through ; 
See, what a rent the envious Casca made : 
Through this, the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd. 

It was explained by the commentators that Cassius stood for Lord 
Hartington and Brutus for Mr. Bright, and every one guessed who 
was the envious Casca of the Home Rule tragedy. The tragedy em- 
bittered and darkened political life for many years, one section of 
Liberals blaming Mr. Gladstone for precipitancy, and the other de- 
nouncing Mr. Chamberlain for desertion- Once more Dr. Dale entered 
a protest on behalf of his friend.* ' How is it,' he asked, * that Mr. 
Chamberlain is the object of so much bitterness ? Lord Hartington 
and Mr. Bright are just as responsible as he is for throwing out the 
Bill. ... He may be mistaken as other men have been ; but he 
stands by the faith which he has professed, and has made the heaviest 
personal sacrifices in dong so. Had he remained in the Ministry after 
Lord Hartington refused to join it, he would have been heir-apparent 
to the leadership of the Commons.' In another letter Dr. Dale, 
referring to this sacrifice and to the prospect of unpopularity for 
Mr. Chamberlain, remarked : ' It is rather dangerous political morality 
to suggest that a man is playing for his own hand when in harmony 
with his avowed convictions he feels obliged to separate himself from 
his party at such a cost as this.' 

The adherents of the Prime Minister doubted whether his former 
lieutenant had really followed his avowed convictions. Their anger 
was due partly to the consideration that whereas the natural ten- 

* Life of R. W. Dale, of Birmingham, 



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130 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

dency of the Whigs might have been to leave the Gladstone Government, 
there ought to have been no such bias on the part of the Binningham 
Radicals. They believed that Mr. Chamberlain might have consist- 
ently voted for the second reading Of the Bill, and the reservations he 
continued to make on the principle strengthened their suspicion of 
his motives. Addressing his constituents on June 26, he said : ' At 
the last General Election you know that the very idea of Home Rule 
was scouted by the vast majority of the Liberal party. Not by me! 
(cheers). No, not by me! because I have always been a Home Ruler.' 

A General Election being decided upon Mr. Chamberlain acted 
with his usual promptitude and energy. At first he held aloof from 
the Liberal Unionist Association, which had been formed by Lord 
Hartington's followers. He favoured for a time an independent 
course on the part of his own supporters, and at a consultation with 
them at his residence it was decided to start the National Radical 
Union. Under his presidency this organization was inaugurated at 
Birmingham in June, the Radicals who promoted it being in favour of 
a uniform scheme of local self-government for all parts of the United 
Kingdom under the supreme authority of the imperial Parliament. 
While taking this action Mr. Chamberlain assured himself of the sup- 
port of his constituency and his town. At a great meeting of the 
electors his action was endorsed except by a very small minority. 
' Tremendous enthusiasm,' he reported, ' and the G.O.M. not in it. 
They would have hooted him if I had asked them.' ^ 

The rapid swing of politics caused excitement throughout the 
coimtry, and the struggle was characterised by unusual passion. 
Mr. Chamberlain, speaking at numerous meetings, attacked his friends 
with an even keener ardour than he had displayed against the Tories. 
The missionary of political humanity became the missionary of a 
legislative union. His tone with reference to Mr. Gladstone under- 
went a sharp change. He accused his chief of juggling with words, 
just as a few months previously he had accused Lord Salisbury. His 
rhetoric was never more spirited or incisive. Denouncing both the 
Land Purchase and the Home Rule Bills at Birmingham on July 2, 
he said : — 

Yon are asked to pay £ 150,000,000 to set up a rival Parliament in Dublin : 
aye, a rival and a competitor to the great Parliament at Westminster, the mother 
of Parliaments, the type and model of free institutions throughout the globe, 
and the one only security and guarantee for the rights and the liberties and the 
property of all Her Majesty's subjects. . . . You are asked to stake upon the 
hacurd of a die the authority and the influence, perhaps even the existence of 
the empire. All I can say is that for my part I will never be a party to such a 
dangerous and a ruinous speculation. . . . These bills are not a concession to 
justice ; they are not a concession to the intelligent demands of the Irish people ; 

1 W, 5. Caine, M.P. 



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THE QUARREL 131 

aH the intelligence of Ireland i8 opposed to them. They axe a surrender to Mr. 
Pamell and to the forces behind him. . . . This is an unexampled crisis in our 
national history ; it is an unparalleled chapter in our annals. You have a lYime 
Minister in the very height of his popularity turning round upon himself, upon 
all that he has said, upon all that he has been understood to say, for I know not 
how many years, and making an abject surrender to the vile conspiracy which 
has endeavoured, I fear not altogether without success, to shake the constancy 
of English statesmen by threats of outrage and assassination. Will you Aaxe 
in this humiliation ? Will you be a party to this surrender ? 

These sentences, which may enable the reader to understand the 
fdiy which Mr. Chamberlain excited in Home Rule quarters, will 
show also the nature of the new arguments and appeals which he 
addressed to the electors. The key, although pitched very high, 
was not above the occasion ; and he maintained it for several weeks. 
There is a passage in his speech at Cardiff on July 6, which recalls 
the fervent passion of his protests against the tjranny of the peers. 
Other tyrants now aroused his anger : — 

Gentlemen, (he said), your ancestors have met great difficulties and dangers, 
and have confronted them successfully. They have arrested the tyranny of 
kings ; they have borne without flinching the terrors of a persecuting Church ; 
they have again and again rolled back the tide of foreign invasion from our shores ; 
they have overcome the most powerful combination of their foes ; and now will 
you, their descendants — ^you, upon whose shoulders the burden of their empiie 
has iaXLen — ^will you be so poor-spirited as to break up your ancient constitution, 
to destroy 3rour venerable Pariiament, and to surrender your weU-eamed supre- 
macy to the vile and ignoble force of anarchy and disorder ? 

Praise came to the orator from quarters in which for years he 
had received imsparing censure. The Times, in whose opposition 
he had formerly gloried, took him into favom*. Reviewing the stormy 
Parliamentary strifes of the year, it conmiented on his growing powers 
of reasoning and expression. ' The danger with which the separatist 
heresy threatened the splendid fabric of the British Empire, stirred 
up emotions in Mr. Chamberlain which gave to his speeches a force, 
a largeness and a patriotic ring previously wanting in them. Not 
only did Mr. Chamberlain thus produce imwonted effect by appealing 
to a higher order of conceptions, but in doing so his own ideas expanded 
and acquired a healthier vitality by contact with living facts.' Similar 
encouragement was given by Lord Randolph Churchill, who wrote 
that he had reasserted his position as leader of the Radical party, 
and on questions of Imperial policy had gained the confidence of the 
country. 

Undoubtedly he threw off the parochial-mindedness of which 
he boasted in 1880, and soared to imperial heights. One of his earlier 
efforts in this direction was seen in his speech explaining his resigna- 
tion. ' Since I have been in public affairs I have called m)^self, I 
think not altogether without reason, a Radical. But that title has 
never prevented me from giving great consideration to imperial 



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132 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

interests. I have cared for the honour, and the influence, and the 
int^rity of the empire, and it is because I beheve these things are 
now in danger that I have fdt myself called upon to make the greatest 
sacrifice that any public man can make.' Again on the night before 
his election, in language which aroused inmiense enthusiasm, Mr. 
Chamberlain appealed to the sceptre of dominion. * It was the stability 
of a great empire which they were guarding from attack. Ireland 
was much but the empire was more. ... All the world would wait 
to see if England kept intact that which her forefathers had handed 
down, or if she sold her birthright, not for a mess of pottage but from 
sheer weakness.' 



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XVIII 
THE ROUND TABLE 

AS the result of the disruption of the Liberal Party the Conserva- 
tives occupied office foe sixteen out of the next nineteen years, 
Mr. Gladstone's defect at the General Election in July, 1886, was 
decisive. The Unionists were returned to the new Parliament with 
a majority of no and even without their allies the Conservatives had 
a majority of thirty-six over the combined Home Rulers, British and 
Irish. They could only be defeated if the Liberal Unionists were 
to vote with the other sections of the House against them and such 
a combination was soon proved improbable. It was said that the 
millions proposed to be given to the Irish landlords under the Land 
Purchase BiU did the mischief. Anyhow, the cause of Home Rule 
was overthrown. Mr. Chamberlain carried Birmingham with him, 
and instead of returning seven members to vote with Mr. Gladstone 
it elected six Liberal Unionists and one Conservative ally of the former 
Conservative 'bogey.' 

When Mr. Gladstone resigned. Lord Salisbury, on being sent for 
by Queen "Wctoria, held a consultation with Lord Hartington. The 
Conservative leader offered to serve under the Whig statesman but 
the time for an official coahtion had not yet arrived. Even if the Whig 
were willing he might have been deterred by the fear that precipitate 
action would throw Mr. Chamberlain and his Radical followers back 
to Mr. Gladstone. Certainly Mr. Chamberlain ridiculed the idea of 
his joining a Coalition, nor was Lord Salisbury yet ready to sit with 
him in the same Cabinet. This, as Lord Salisbury told his Whig 
friend, * would be too sharp a curve for both.' ^ Lord Hartington 
informed a meeting at Devonshire House — at which Mr. Chamberlain 
accepted his leadership — ^that he had declined to form a Government 
because it would have made the breach in the Liberal party irreparable. 
He and his friends were not to cease to be Liberals and they did not 
intend to provide any pretext for den3dng them that title. At the 
same time he promised independent support to the Conservative 
Administration. The Liberal Unionists crossed with the 'Glad- 
stonians ' to the opposition side of the House but assisted Lord Sahs- 

* See letter from Lord Hartington to Mr. Goschen, of July 24, 1886, in L%f$ 
of Lord Goschen, by Mr. Arthur Elliot. 

133 



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134 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

bury's colleagues in debate and voted with them in the division 
lobby. 

Courtesies passed between the estranged Liberal leaders when 
they met in the new Parliament. Lord Hartington greeted Mr. 
Gladstone in a friendly, respectful manner, and the beaten old man 
held out his hand to Mr. Chamberlain who took it while he raised his 
hat. Recriminations were, however, revived in debate on the Address. 
While Lord Hartington's followers were, to their annoyance, described 
as dissentients, Mr. Gladstone's adherents were insulted as ' separa- 
tists.' Mr. Chamberlain, speaking on August 6, provoked many 
jeers by declaring that he was not going to do anjrthing to turn out 
the Conservative Government as long as the party which would take 
its place was committed to a separatist policy. His speech was full 
of gibes at old friends, and was much cheered by new allies. Refer- 
ence had been made to his ' honour,' but Mr. Sexton, a very able 
and eloquent Irish member, in a pitiless passage, said, as Lady Teazle 
said to Joseph Surface : ' Don't you think we may as well leave honour 
out of the argument ? ' Sir Wilfrid Lawson sneered at him as the 
autocrat of the new Government and when he complained that he 
had been ostracised by the Liberal party. Sir William Harcourt retorted 
that it was rather the other way, and that he had ostracised every 
one but his single self. Mr. Gladstone after the fall of his Ministry 
' was persuaded, mainly through the influence of Lord Granville, to 
have an interview with Mr. Chamberlain ; but it led to no satisfoctory 
result.'^ The rebelling Radical was impenitent. 'He had antici- 
pated,' wrote Mr. Labouchere nineteen years later, ' that the Liberal 
party would side with him. Finding that Mr. Gladstone was stronger 
than himself in the party he went over to the Conservatives.' 

There was, however, one brief period of wavering in his career ; 
one point in his journey with the Conservatives when he halted and 
hesitated. The halt was occasioned by a politician whose history 
continued to be as strange and exciting as his own. Lord Randol{di 
Churchill on being appointed in 1885 as Secretary of State for India 
had turned his back, like Henry V, on his former self, and revealed 
high qualities as a responsible statesman ; and on the formation 
of Lord Salisbury's second Government in 1886 he became Chancellor 
of the Ejcchequer and leader of the House of Commons. Occup3dng 
those high posts at the age of thirty-seven the Tory democrat seemed 
to be entering on a briUiant official career. Two days before Christmas, 
however, he startled the country by the announcement that he had 
resigned. The immediate cause of this step was his inability to 
support the military estimates of his colleagues. That was a sufficient 
reason, although others were suspected, as Lord Randolph's mind 
* Lt/# 0/ Lord GranvilU, by Lord Edmond Fitsmaurice. 



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THE ROUND TABLE 135 

was cast in a different mould from the Marquis of Salisbury's and his 
ambition was restless. 

In Mr. Chamberlain's view the political situation was transformed 
by his democratic friend's resignation. On the day it was announced, 
he told his constituents that he feared the old Tory influences had 
gained the upper hand> and that they might be face to face with 
a Government whose proposals no consistent Liberal would be 
able to support. He caused almost as much conmiotion as Lord 
Randolph's resignation had excited, by pleading for reunion. 'We 
Liberals,' he said, ' are agreed upon ninety-nine points of oiu: pro- 
gramme. ... I say even upon Irish matters when I look into the 
thing, I am more surprised at the number of points upon which we 
agree than at the remainder upon which for the present we may be 
content to differ.' Sitting round a table and coming together in a 
spirit of compromise and conciliation, almost any three men, leaders 
of the Liberal party, although they might hold opposite views upon 
another branch of the question, would yet, as he declared, be able 
to arrange some scheme. He had spent a couple of months in eastern 
Eturope, and as these amicable words fell from his lips soon after his 
retiun, trusting Liberals surmised that he had seen the error of his 
ways and wished to return to the old flag. Those who build vast 
speculations on trifling circumstances detected significance in the 
visit that Mr. Morley and Mr. Chamberlain paid together to the 
Lyceum Theatre on the last night of 1886. Their comradeship, 
it was conjectured, would not have been publicly renewed unless there 
were sanguine hope of a political reconciliation. 

Light has been thrown on Mr. Chamberlain's motives and calcula- 
tions by the publication of a letter which he wrote to Lord Randolph 
on hearing of his resignation. ' The Government,' he said, ' is doomed, 
and I suspect we may have to re-form parties on a new basis. You 
and I are equally adrift from the old organizations.' And again : 
' The party tie is the strongest sentiment in this country — stronger 
than patriotism or even self-interest. But it will come all right in 
the end for both of us.' These expressions indicate that while suggest- 
ing the round-table conference, Mr. Chamberlain's aim or expectation 
was not reunion with his former colleagues. He was contemplating 
the formation of a new party. 

His conciliatory overtures were not received cordially by all 
Liberals. Some of them were indifferent as to his return. They 
thought that if he wanted to come back he might find his way without 
assistance from their leaders. His own view was of quite another sort. 
He beheved he was master of the situation. ' My speech,' he wrote 
to Lord Randolph Chiu'chill on December 26, 'has fluttered the 
dovecotes tremendously, and my correspondence shows that many 



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136 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

of the Gladstonians are very uncomfortable and anxious to come 
to tenns.' ' But I do not believe/ he added, ' that there will be any 
practical result.'* 

Mr. Gladstone was not much, if at all, more sanguine. Large and 
final arrangements from a conference it would be rash, he thought, 
to expect, but he had himself, as he told Lord Acton, laboured in 
a conciliatory sense, and he did not allow the possibility of a reunion 
to pass. He considered the Birmingham speech to be an important 
fact of which due note ought to be taken. If he had ignor^ it he 
would have played into the hands of a man who might have desired 
to show that his overtures were repulsed. Sir William Harcourt 
and Mr. Morley believed in the botui fides of Mr. Chamberlain, but 
another old colleague was inclined to suspect that he was only trying 
to put himself right with the large body of Liberals, without any 
prospect of coming to an arrangement. With these varied feelings 
in the minds of the leaders the conference ' roimd a table ' was arranged. 
Sir William Harcourt, Mr. Morley, and Lord Herschell representing 
the official section of the party, and Mr. Chamberlain and Sir George 
Trevelj^an representing some at least of those who had voted against 
the Home Rule Bill. 

When Mr. Chamberlain was thus fluttering his former friends 
with pro^cts of reunion Lord Hartington was in Italy and thither, 
when Lord Randolph Churchill resigned, an uigent message 
was sent by Lord Salisbury. According to an amused observer, 
' a Whig nobleman who was studying antiquities in Rome ' was ' hurried 
home to save the political antiquities at the Carlton Club.' The idea 
of a coalition was renewed, and again the Conservative leader offered 
to serve under his Whig ally. Lord Hartington still preferred to 
maintain an independent position, but with his entire concurrence 
Mr. Goschen joined the Government as Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
and Lord Randolph Chiu'chill foimd his place filled much more easily 
than he had considered possible. If he had acted in the belief that 
he was necessary at the Treasury he 'forgot Goschen.' The Ad- 
ministration became, in fact, more homogeneous under the fresh 
arrangement, for the Whig financier had more in common with the 
Prime Minister than his Tory predecessor. Mr. W. H. Smith was 
appointed leader of the House of Conunons, and when he died, re- 
gretted by all parties. Lord Randolph Churchill's opportunity had 
passed. Another statesman had by that time reached the front 
rank, and while the once brilliant ' Randy ' sank in ill-health to an 
early grave, Mr. Arthur Balfour secured the position which led to 
the office of Prime Minister. 

In reopening negotiations with the Gladstonian Liberals the 
I Lord Randolph Churchill, by W. S. Churchill. 



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THE ROUND TABLE 137 

member for West Birmingham was regarded by his resigned ally as 
pursuing an erroneous course. Lord Randolph Churchill, speaking 
in Parliament, delighted the Home Rtders by a gibe at his ' extra- 
ordinary gyrations.' This comment drew from Mr. Chamberlain 
a letter of expostulation. ' Surely,' he concluded, ' we shall have our 
hands fully occupied without tearing out each other's eyes.' Lord 
Randolph, as usual, responded amicably, so far as the personal ques- 
tion was concerned. ' I do not think,' he wrote, ' I said anything 
which ought even to rufSe our private friendship, which — ^though 
it may seem a paradox to say so— is one of the chief and few remaining 
attractions of political life.' ^ 

The history of the Round Table Conference, which forms one 
of the most puzzling passages in a puzzling career, has been told 
in coimtless speeches and newspapers, but the historians have not 
agreed. Those who took part in it at Sir William Harcoiut's house 
in Grafton Street, carried away conflicting impressions. There 
were preliminary meetings of the distinguished statesmen in the 
middle of January, 1887, which led Mr. Chamberlain to speak hope- 
fully of a settlement, and their deliberations were resumed a month 
later. Some disparaging remarks on Gladstonians made in a speech 
at Birmingham by its celebrated citizen, caused irritation at the 
Round Table, but this was removed at ' a good dinner ' at Sir George 
Trevelyan's and the conference proceeded. Contradictory accoimts 
were given in subsequent times of the measure of agreement secured 
on the question of Home Rule. On the one hand Mr. Chamberlain 
complained that he failed to obtain any pledge that Mr. Gladstone 
and his friends would accept any of the conditions which had been 
laid down as essential by Lord Hartington and himself. On the 
other hand Sir William Harcoiut declared that upon most fundamental 
points the statesmen at the conference were in entire accord. At 
the end of February, whatever may have been the course of the 
deliberations, the representatives of the Liberal party laid the 
results so far achieved before their leader, who agreed to set forth in 
a memorandum his view on the whole question. 

A letter from Mr. Chamberlain published in the Baptist and re- 
printed in the daily press put an end to the high hopes of an arrange- 
ment. The writer contended that Home Rule was leading to the 
indefinite postponement of just and pressing reforms such as Welsh 
disestablishment and made offensive reference not only to the new 
policy but to its advocates who proposed ' handing over the minority 
in Ireland to the tender mercies of Mr. Pamell and the Irish League.' 
' Thirty-two millions of people,' he wrote, ' must go without much- 
needed legislation because three millions are disloyal, while nearly 
» Lord Randolph Churchill, by W. S. Churchill. 



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138 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

six hundred members of the imperial Parliament will be reduced to 
forced inactivity because some eighty delegates, representing the 
policy and receiving the pay of the Chicago Convention, are determined 
to obstruct all business until their demands have been conceded.' 
By this letter, according to one of those engaged in the conference, 
' all the old bitterness, the old irritation, and the old offences were 
renewed, revived and repeated.' A friend to whom the writer showed 
it beforehand warned him of what would be its consequences, but 
those could have been surmised by no one more shrewdly than by 
himself. 

The conference, suspended in order that Mr. Gladstone might 
sum up the result of the conunimications of his colleagues, was never 
resumed. He held that the Baptist letter interposed an imexpected 
obstacle in his way, and it was subsequently treated by his friends 
as the cause of the rupture, although Mr. Chamberlain pointed out 
that after it appeared Sir William Harcourt pubUcly declared that 
the differences at the Round Table were few and secondary. He 
on his own part insisted that the negotiations broke down because 
there was a power behind the Liberal leaders which they did not 
dare to face, and which prevented them from granting adequate 
concessions.* ' We appear to be as far from a settlement as ever,' 
reported Mr. Chamberlain to his friends in Birmingham, on March 12 ; 
and he added that personally he had done what he could. Even 
in the speech on this occasion in which he defined the position of 
' every leading member of the Unionist Liberal party,' he said they 
had no difference with Mr. Gladstone except upon one single point, 
and on this point they objected not to the principle but to the methods. 
If certain objections could be met they were ready to ' accept any 
scheme for conferring on Ireland legislative authority to deal with 
its exclusively domestic concerns.' This passage has embarrassed 
some of the apologists who try to prove that Home Rule as conceived 
by its early advocate was fundamentally different from the system 
proposed by Mr. Gladstone. 

At the time of the conference, or a little later, Mr. Chamberlain 
wrote to Mr. Morley to tell him that so earnestly did he desire the 
imion of the Liberals and the settlement of the Irish question that if 
it was considered that any objection to himself stood in the way of 
an agreement or an amicable arrangement, he was personally pre- 
pared, if that agreement was arrived at, to retire altogether bom 
public life. The offer was not accepted. Mr. Morley would be the 

^ Mr. Chamberlain said to Mr. Barry O'Brien. ' I revived my National Coun- 
cils scheme at the Romid Table Conference. I bdieve they were willing to accept 
it. They asked Pamell. PameU would not have it, and that of course made 
an end m the matter.* — Life of C. 5. Pamell, 



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THE ROUND TABLE 139 

last man to impose so great a sacrifice on any friend, and it is evident, 
now at any rate, that the sort of agreement which was to be the pre- 
liminary to resignation was impossible. The story of the offer was 
told by Mr. Chamberlain himself in 1892, in order to rebut the charge 
of personal ambition which was then brought against him. 

Msrstery has continued to surround his motives at the period 
of the conference, and the views which politicians take of his con- 
duct in suggesting it and subsequently in writing the provocative 
letter to the Baptist are influenced in many cases by preconceived 
notions. Unsympathetic critics suggest that his aim, as Lord Gran- 
ville suspected, was merely to put himself right with the large body of 
Liberals. They suppose that he was still hopeful of winning the 
majority to his side, and that by inducing the negotiators to agree 
to his proposals he expected to make Mr. Gladstone's retention of 
the leadership impossible. His letters to Lord Randolph Churchill 
indicate also, as we have seen, that his aim was not reunion on the 
old lines. On the other hand the plea which he put forward that the 
Liberal leaders were prevented by Mr. Pamell from making satisfactory 
concessions was accepted by Unionists as an adequate escplanation. 
Lord Hartington and others who considered the conference prematm^e 
or ill-advised had not been sanguine as to its results. It enabled Mr. 
Chamberlain, however, to convince his friends that he had done his 
best to promote conciliation. Henceforward he acted with the Con- 
servatives. 

Coercion became the test of politics. When a new stiffening of 
the Irish criminal law was proposed by the Government in 1887 the 
Liberals expected that the Radical section of Unionists would be 
driven back on their old party. Seeing that Mr. Chamberlain had 
threatened to resign in 1885 rather than renew the coercion which 
then existed, it was supposed that whatever might have been the 
cause of the failiue of the Round Table Conference he would now 
refuse to vote with the Conservatives. His Unionism, however, 
stood the strain. He supported the Crimes Bill in speeches which 
fanned the flame of national feeling. His tone was defiant. He 
anticipated that he would be taunted with his alliance with the Tories. 
' At least our allies,' he retorted, ' will be English gentlemen, and not 
the subsidised agents of a foreign conspiracy. I look beyond mere 
Pariiamentary considerations. The Government may be Tory, 
but if its measures are Liberal I am prepared to discuss them on 
their merits, and without regard to past controversies.' The fact 
that threescore Liberals went into the lobby to support a stringent 
measure of coercion ' without any of the usual evidence and war- 
rants ' was to Mr. Gladstone ' the bitterest of all disappointments 
in connexion with this deplorable issue.' He and his friends were 



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140 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

specially surprised by the devotion of the Chamberlain group to the 
new Government, and Mr. Morley in the sternest tone denounced 
them as coercionist Radicals. 

Gradually Mr. Chamberlain drew further and further away from 
the Gladstonians. He acted in intimate consultation with Lord 
Hartington, and their forces throughout the country were jointly 
oiganized in 1887. The Liberal Union was formed at Devonshire 
House in February with the Whig as president and the Radical as a 
vice-president. At a dinner given in June by the Liberal Union 
Club, to which his friends moved from the Eighty Club after the latter 
had refused to entertain him, Mr. Chamberlain declared that he was 
no longer sanguine of the possibility of reconciliation with old friends 
and expressed his absolute confidence in Lord Hartington. He had 
privately continued to advocate provincial Parliaments on the Cana- 
dian lines, but was dissuaded by his new leader from pushing this pro- 
ject in public. Responsibility for the disunion of the Liberal party 
was cast by him on the Home Rule section. *The Gladstonian 
Liberals,' he said, * have made their choice. They prefer an alliance 
with the Pamellites to any chance of reconciliation with their old 
colleagues and old friends. The men who have surrendered everything 
to the Irish Party and to their American allies now slam the door 
in our faces, and in the faces of all who will not join them in their 
abject surrender.' There was only one point at which he refused 
to act with his new allies. He voted with the Opposition for a motion 
protesting against the proclamation of the National League which 
had risen out of the ashes of the Land League. This was coimted to 
him as a slight sign of grace. 

On Sir George Trevdyan, who could not long endure Conservative 
policy and who on returning to the Liberal fold was hailed as a repent- 
ant prodigal, Mr. Chamberlain poured bitter scorn. Instead of 
repenting he demanded repentance from opponents. He attacked Mr. 
Gladstone in and out of the House, declaring that without any pre- 
liminary discussion in the country, and without full or fair consulta- 
tion with his followers, the veteran leader had flung an apple of discord 
among them, and thrust down their throats a reversal of all the tradi- 
tions of the party. To ' the older and nobler creed of Liberalism ' 
he himself appealed. 

An amusing account has been given by Lady Randolph Churchill 
of an attempt by Mr. Chamberlain in a smnmer cruise to interest 
Lord Hartington in a scheme for a National party which he and Lord 
Randolph were considering.^ One can imagine his own ardour and 
Lord Hartington's ' frozen attitude.' The Whig preferred his alliance 
with the Marquis of Salisbury to association in a new party with the 
* The Reminiscences of Lady Randolph Churchill, 



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THE ROUND TABLE 141 

Tory democrat. The National party was not fonned, and indeed its 
advocates did not always agree. Mr. Chamberlain's angry antagonism 
to those from whom he had so recently parted led Lord Randolph 
ChurchiU to make a biting reference to him in August, during discussion 
on the Irish Land Bill. ' The right honourable gentleman/ said the 
ex-Conservative Minister, ' evidently does not understand the process 
of differing from one's party and yet supporting it.' ' Neither/ 
retorted Mr. Chamberlain, ' am I a member who speaks one way and 
votes another/ This was a gibe at Lord Randolph's criticism of 
the Government with which he voted. The tiff led, as on other 
occasions, to a letter from the Radical statesman who sought persist- 
ently to keep on good terms with an old friend whose temper was as 
quick and whose tongue was as sharp as his own. ' I hope,' he said 
(in a sentence published by Mr. Churchill), 'that in this case it is 
if a amatUium reditUegratio amoris.' 



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XIX 
AN INTERLUDE 

AN interlude in Mr. Chamberlain's political career was provided 
by his appointment in the autmnn of 1887 as one of Her 
Majesty's plenipotentiaries to represent Great Britain on a Commission 
vnth reference to North American fisheries. To his selection for this 
duty some objection was taken by a few Radicals and Nationalists 
on the ground that he would be unacceptable to the Irish on the other 
side of the Atlantic, but there was, except among such extreme oppon- 
ents, a recognition of his special fitness for the work. The mission, 
as the Foreign Ofi&ce testified, was eminently successful in bringing to 
a conclusion differences which had threatened to strain our relations 
vnth the United States. Although the treaty which the negotiators 
arranged was rejected by the American Senate it was accompanied 
by a modus vivendi which was renewed again and again. 

On the vote for the expenses of the mission being taken in the 
House of Commons the Government expressed hearty acknowledg- 
ments to Mr. Chamberlain for the services he had rendered to the 
State. Mr. Labouchere, moved by political hostility, complained 
that he had cost over £30 a day in performing a duty which should have 
been entrusted to our regular representative at Washington, and 
although Mr. Gladstone magnanimously approved of what had been 
done and praised Mr. Chamberlain's public spirit, Mr. T. P. O'Connor, 
a leading Nationalist, gave expression to Irish hatred. He attributed 
to Mr. Chamberlain ' infirmity of temper,' and a ' power of making 
himself personally obnoxious,' and commented on the ' almost Bel- 
shazzar-like splendour of his feasts ' in America. ' All the fashion, 
aU the statesmanship, all the wealth, and though last, not least, all 
the beauty and luxury of America seem to have been invited to the 
boimteous and hospitable board of the right honourable gentleman.' 
In spite, however, of prejudice, a hostile amendment was rejected 
by a majority of 314 to 68. 

When Mr. Chamberlain reappeared at St. Stephen's, in March, 
1888, he was greatly cheered, and many members on both sides shook 
hands with him. Birmingham enrolled him the first ' honorary 
freeman ' of his adopted city, and he was entertained to dinner at the 
Devonshire Club in London by both sections of Liberals. Queen 

142 



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AN INTERLUDE 143 

Victoria sent to him a photograph-portrait bearing in her own hand- 
writing the inscription : ' To the Right Honourable J. Chamberlain, 
on his return from Washington, Victoria R.' 

It was stated, apparently on authority, that he was offered a title. 
Punch expected he would become a baronet. ' Our Fishery-Com- 
missionery Young Man ' was depicted gaily attired in stars and stripes, 
saying, ' Sport ? Why, certainly ! Enjoyed myself amazingly, you 
bet. If I'm asked, What's the net result ? Is it barren ? I shall 
reply, Sir, the result is barren-net-see ! Guess that's not bad for 
Joseph.' Four weeks later the comic journal was constrained to give 
another picture. Joseph is now seen rejecting with scorn the proffered 
baronetcy at the hands of Lady Tory Diplomacy and clinging to the 
object of his first love, Dear Democracy. The offer of a title was no 
doubt in his mind when at a luncheon at Birmingham in the following 
January, he said with significance scarcely veiled by jocularity : * My 
friend Mr. Timmins has spoken of persons, presumably intimate acquaint- 
ances of his own, who desire to be Dukes of Digbeth or Earls of Edg- 
baston ; but for my part I say that if I live to be the age of Methuselah 
I shall wish for, and I shall accept, no higher honour than that of 
being member for Birmingham.' 

Out of the Washington visit sprang an incident which increased 
Mr. Chamberlain's domestic happiness. ' I was fortunate enough,' 
as he softly boasted, ' to make two treaties. I had my secret docu- 
ment as well as the public document.' The secret treaty was his 
engagement to Miss Mary Endicott, only daughter of the Secretary 
of War in President Cleveland's Administration. He had been 
introduced to her at a reception at the British Legation in Washington. 
No formal or public announcement of the engagement was made until 
Mr. Chamberlain was on the Atlantic in November (1888) on his way 
back to America for his bride. Then the Birmingham Daily Post 
informed its readers that Miss Endicott was a member of one of the 
oldest and most notable families in the United States. The name 
of her ancestor, Governor John Endicott, was intimately associated 
with the foundation of the Puritan colony which became the State of 
Massachusetts. ' Since the date when he set foot on New England 
soil his descendants had lived quietly, usefully and honourably in 
Salem and its neighboiurhood, always eminent among the citizens of 
Massachusetts but never obtruding claims to distinction founded 
upon the services of their ancestors. None of them, we believe, had 
achieved prominence in public Ufe until the time of the present head 
of the family.' 

Mr. Endicott's home in Salem was described by the New York 
Herald as a roomy and dignified-looking old Cabot mansion in Essex 
Street, near a century and a quarter old. ' It is a most comfortable 



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144 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

abiding place and has a magnificent library. In the pleasant social 
life of Salem, which has a peculiar charm of its own as well as in the 
gayer circles of the National capital the Endicotts play a leading 
part, the whole family being much liked.' Lord Selbome, the ex- 
Lord Chancellor, described Mrs. Chamberlain in the first year of her 
wedded Ufe as ' a young American lady, very good looking, with 
excellent simple manners, more English of the best type than American.' 

The marriage, in which people on both sides of the Atlantic took 
a kindly interest, was solenmized on November 15, in St. John's 
Protestant Episcopal Church, Washington — ^the same church in 
which the father and mother of Charles Stewart Pamell were wedded. 
Renter's correspondent cabled that the ceremony was extremely 
simple and that there were no decorations in the sacred edifice. The 
guests included the President and high oflftcials of the Government ; 
and the prominent miUtary men in the capital were present in full 
uniform. The Daily Telegraph recorded that the bride, who wore a 
grey travelling costume, walked down the main aisle of the church 
quite self-possessed, her usual bright complexion a trifle dimmed 
but her appearance having all that dignified charm of manner so well 
known in Washington society. Mr. Chamberlain wore ' solid black/ 
and in the button-hole of his cutaway-coat, as the American reporter 
observed, was a knot of white violets, while his pearl necktie was held 
by a broad loop of gold. The New York Herald added some personal 
touches to the picture : ' The bridegroom met the bride with a smile 
and outstretched hand at the lower step of the altar. Throughout the 
ceremony both answered the questions in clear tones and after the 
last benediction, for which both heads bent low, there was a joyous 
burst of organ music and Mr. Chamberlain led the way out with his 
winsome bride, every movement depicting his intense happiness.' 
It was further mentioned that at the wedding breakfast at Endicott 
House, in response to the personal congratulations of President Cleve- 
land, the bridegroom showed much feeling. 

The flower which he wore at the wedding was discussed as if it 
were an emblem of much significance. A gossip remarked that no 
Briton had ever seen him with any other botdonniire than the familiar 
orchid. The white violet was the favourite flower of his bride, and the 
World raised the momentous problem ' whether this discard of the 
orchid was a unique occturence or whether the scentless exotic had 
been permanently sacrificed to the sweet-smeUing violet.' Events 
proved that the secret treaty with the bride did not include the aban- 
donment of the ' scentless exotic' 

Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain, after travelling in America for a short 
time, came to Europe to complete the honeymoon tour. On Christ- 
mas Eve they arrived at Birmingham and they ' entered their carriage 



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AN INTERLUDE 145 

before the few persons on the platform who recognized them coulA 
recover from their surprise or make any attempt at a demonstration/ 
Mrs. Chamberlain's formal introduction to her husband's fellow-citizens 
took place at a social ceremony in the Town Hall early in January, 
1889, and according to the Daify Post her bright and handsome dignity 
turned her reception into a triumph. All political parties were 
represented, and the bride received handsome gifts of jewellery which 
had been subscribed for by citizens, by women and by constituents. The 
women in their address told her that ' in coming amongst us, it is your 
happy lot to be dowered with that wealth of interest, sympathy and 
kindly affection which Mr. Chamberlain's fellow-townsmen offer as a 
marriage portion to his bride.' Mr. C. £. Mathews, speaking for the 
citizens, paid a graceful compliment to the ' charming and winsome ' 
bride and concluded his congratulations in the words with which 
Lorenzo greets Portia on her return to Belmont : — 
Dear lady. Welcome borne. 

A reply, touched by that tenderness which alwaj^ softened him 
when he alluded to his wife, was given by Mr. Chaiinberlain. ' She 
will tell you,' he said, ' that we have often talked of Birmingham and 
that I have dwelt upon the peculiar closeness of the ties which bind 
me to this great constituency, and now she bids me say to you that 
she shares all the interest that I have ever felt in its institutions and 
in its people, and in the public and private hfe of the dty in which 
she has elected to dwell. . . . Although I never hope nor desire ta 
lessen her love for the country she has left I know that she is prepared 
to take up her life in the country to which she has come in all its fullness 
and that she will say with Ruth of old — 

Thy people shall be my people.' 



10 



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XX 

TRANSFORMATION 

FOR six years Mr. Gladstone and his lieutenants, seated on the front 
Opposition bench, endured the company of the principal Liberal 
Unionists, who from that privileged position assailed the conduct and 
Teplied to the arguments of their former colleagues. The presence of 
the allies of the Conservative Government on the same bench as the 
leaders of the Opposition was described by one of the most tolerant 
of the latter as an unseemly comedy. It was by no means intended 
as a comedy. Lord Hartington, Mr. Chamberiain and Sir Henry 
James, who sat together near the gangway, insisted on their right as 
Privy Councillors to places at the table, and they claimed moreover 
to belong to the Liberal party. On the other hand the Gladstonians — 
«LS the followers of the Grand Old Man were usually called — complained 
that their leaders might be embarrassed in their consultations by 
the proximity of Unionists, and probably in their complaint they 
were influenced by the desire to drive the allies of the Conservatives 
over to the Government side and prejudice them in the opinion of 
wavering Liberals throughout the country. Lord Hartington said in 
effect : ' We wiU remain here because we are Liberals.' ' What 
you desire,' retorted the Gladstonians, ' is not to maintain your Liberal 
character, but to weaken the Opposition by giving the appearance of 
disunion on our side.' Although the old chief himself scarcely ever 
betrayed resentment disagreeable scenes took place in the heat and 
jlare of debate when the so-called ' dissentient ' leaders rose from the 
bench which he occupied and, standing quite near him, denounced 
his Irish policy or defended the Conservatives from his attacks. 

The relations of Lord Hartington and Mr. Chamberlain were more 
-confidential during the stormy sessions which followed the disruption 
4>i the Liberal party than when they were Cabinet colleagues. Their 
careers had experienced strange vicissitudes since the one made the 
acquaintance of the other as Mayor of Birmingham. While 
Mr. Chamberlain was a new and independent member he censured the 
Whig leader of the Liberal Opposition ; they were rivals in Mr. Glad- 
stone's second Government ; they subsequently quarrelled on public 
platforms over Liberal programmes ; and now in a conmion estrange- 
ment from their common chief they drew closely together, the Whig 

146 



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TRANSFORMATION 147 

statesman being faithfully followed by the ambitious Radical who 
had been suspected of a desire to snatch the leadership from Mr. 
Gladstone. 

In resistance to' Home Rule Lord Hartington developed his highest 
powers, put forth his greatest strength, and obtained his chief Parlia- 
mentary success. Although his ability had seldom been questioned 
his impassive manner often did him injustice, but now he fought with 
vehemence. His speeches surprised even his friends. Standing at 
the end of the table, and turning to face Mr. Gladstone, or to indicate 
him by a gesture. Lord Hartington denoimced his Irish policy in 
strong language and in an animated tone. His nature had been 
thoroughly aroused. An imsuspected passion in it was revealed. 
No Libersd doubted his sincerity or his patriotism. Nobody suggested 
that in so resolutely resisting Home Rule he was actuated by personal 
motives. It was on the Radical Unionist alone that personal imputa- 
tions were cast. The special grievance in Mr. Chamberlain's case was 
that, as the Liberals contended, he had prepared their minds for 
devolution. However much he might point out that the Home Rule 
he contemplated was not the Home Rule that Mr. Gladstone proposed, 
he was treated as a deserter. Lord Hartington on the other hand was 
regarded as a natural opponent. 

Mr. Balfour became Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887, and in the 
stem administration of the Crimes Act, by which he won his way to 
leadership, he was steadily supported by the Liberal Unionists. Except 
Mr. Goschen, he had no colleague on his own side who gave him such 
able assistance in debate as he received from friendly statesmen sitting 
in the seats of the Opposition. Without their aid he would have had 
an unequal conflict with Mr. Gladstone, who waved the green flag 
and flung himself against coercion with an impetuosity and a courage 
unsurpassed by the youngest Nationalist. 

The year 1888 was notable for its passionate Irish controversies. 
In the debates on the charges brought by The Times against Pamellites 
and on the Special Commission appointed to inquire into the indict- 
ment, the passages between Mr. Pamell and Mr. Chamberlain were 
specially acrimonious. Enraged by a patronizing reference to their 
early co-operation the 'imcrowned King of Ireland' accused his 
former friend of having betrayed Cabinet secrets when in ofl&ce, and 
of having put forward others to do what he was afraid to do himself. 
There was no necessity for Mr. Chamberlain to defend his personal 
courage. No one really suspected him of the lack of that quality. 
He took the opportunity, however, to deny that he had had any direct 
communication with Mr. Pamell while a member of the Cabinet 
except, as he was reminded, when the Irish leader came to his house 
after the Phoenix Park murders. There were indirect conmiunications, 



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148 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

but he stated that the substance of everything which passed with 
reference to the release of the prisoners from Kihnainham was made 
known to Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Forster, and that the Cabinet was 
informed also of the whole of the proposals with reference to the 
scheme of National Councils. This declaration was corroborated 
by Mr. Gladstone. ' My memory,' he said, ' is in accordance with 
what has been stated by my right honourable friend.' 

The cry of ' Judas ! ' raised in an earlier session was repeated on 
March 30, after Mr. Chamberlain had defended his honour against 
Mr. Pamell's allegations. On the stroke of midnight, when debate 
stood adjourned, Mr. T. P. O'Connor made a remark which was followed 
by the laughter of his friends. The Radical Unionist, turning from 
the front Opposition bench and facing the Nationalists, asked : ' What 
did he say ? ' 'He called you Judas Chamberlain,' promptly answered 
Mr. Biggar with an aggravating smile. The insult was so marked 
that it could not be ignored, and in deference to the Speaker, Mr. 
O'Connor, after a little altercation, withdrew the offensive epithet. 
It was used on a future occasion, which will be described at the proper 
place, when it contributed to the most disgraceful scene witnessed 
in Parliament for generations. Mr. Chamberlain was not unduly 
sensitive. He knew that the expression sprang from the embittered 
feefings of baffled men, and he measured their defeat by their anger. 
In a later year when a Liberal member took an independent and tm« 
popular course he sarcastically expressed surprise that the r^;ular party 
men did not caU him also ' Judas.' 

Home Rulers were naturally elated in 1889 by the breakdown 
of the worst charge of The Times against Mr. Pamell — ^that of writing 
a letter apologising for his condemnation of the Phoenix Park murders 
and saying : ' Though I regret the accident of Lord F. Cavendish's 
death I cannot refuse to admit that Burke got no more than his deserts.' 
When Richard Pigott, after giving evidence before the Special Com- 
mission, confessed that he had forged the letter, fled from England 
and shot himself dead in Madrid, there was a reaction in the Irish 
leader's favour and a consequent change in the political situation. 
Coercion and forgery were unpopular props for any cause. Mr. Cham- 
berlain, however, kept the main Irish issue in view, and on the Govern- 
ment motion, in March, 1890, to adopt the report of the Conmiissioa 
he renewed his attack upon Nationalist methods. While Conservative 
Lord Randolph ChurchiU censured the Ministers for their partisan 
procedure they were defended by Radical Mr. Chamberlain. ' Con- 
spiracy,' Mr. Chamberlain said, ' was cloaked and concealed by what 
the Nationalists called the constitutional agitation. What guarantee 
have we that the same thing is not going on now ? What proof have 
we that if Home Rule is granted we shall not find behind it a Fenian 



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TRANSFORMATION 149 

organization using Home Rule as a first step to independence ? ' His 
point of view had altered since 1886, and Home Rule, instead of being 
admitted as a principle, was now dreaded as a bogey. He attributed 
the change to the revelations of the Conmiission. 

The evil that a forger could not do to the Irish cause was done 
by its champion himself. The tide of sympathy which set in after 
Pigott's confession instantly receded when a court of law found that 
Mr. Pamell had committed adultery with the wife of the Irish friend 
who had arranged his liberation from Kilmainham. Public opinion 
was shocked by his sin, and political considerations were forced to 
yield to the higher claims of morality. The O'Shea divorce case led 
to the most exciting and dramatic controversy which has ever been 
conducted in a conmiittee room at the House of Conunons. When 
the NationaUst members, at the meeting of Parliament, in November, 
1890, with reckless generosity re-elected Mr. Pamell as chairman for 
the session, their decision produced consternation and dismay among 
the Liberals, and Mr. Gladstone promptly arranged for the publication 
of a letter stating that the continuance of the member for Cork at the 
head of the Irish party would render bis own leadership almost a 
nulhty. * The voter now tells me,' he recorded in a memorandum, 
* that he cannot give a vote for making the Mr. Pamell of to-day the 
ruler of Irish affairs imder British sanction.' * His letter induced the 
Nationalists to reconsider their decision. Committee room No. 15, 
a handsome chamber overlooking the Thames, became of special 
interest to Irish visitors as the scene of the debates in which Mr. 
Pamell's fate was settled. Defiant and confident, he refused to resign, 
but at last after controversy had continued for several days the 
majority of his colleagues formally deposed him, and in his place 
elected Mr. Justin McCarthy, the mild-mannered novehst . Thereupon 
the dethroned ' King,' to whom a considerable minority adhered, cut 
himself off from the Liberal alliance, flouted Mr. Gladstone as ' that 
garrulous old gentleman,' and asserted that the Home Rule Bill, 
which he welcomed in 1886, was not regarded by the Nationalists as 
a final settlement, but was accepted only as an instalment for what 
it was worth. His revelation served the cause of the Unionists and 
set back the stone which Mr. Gladstone, with gigantic efforts, had been 
rolling up the hill. ' Home Rule,' Mr. Chamberlain boasted on the 
last day of 1890, ' is as dead as Queen Anne, and we have at last un- 
masked and revealed in its true colours the greatest fraud and im- 
posture that was ever sought to be palmed off upon the British nation.' 

So complete a change of colleagues and conduct as took place in 
the case of Mr. Chamberlain after the Liberal disruption had not 
been seen since the alliance of Fox with Lord North. His leader and 
^ Life of Gladstone, by John llbrl«y. 



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150 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

most intimate associate in high political regions was ' Rip Van Win- 
kle ' ; he was a confidential ally of ' the armchair politician/ * the 
superior person/ ' the skeleton at the feast ' ; he supported the coercion 
policy of a rising statesman who had denounced his Radical schemes 
as mischievous and who had declared that his attacks on the House 
of Lords consisted of bad history, bad logic and bad taste ; he kept 
in power a Prime Minister with an ' over-bearing attitude ' and * an 
air of patrician arrogance/ belonging to the class * who toil not neither 
do they spin ' ; he exchanged the comradeship of Sir William Harcourt, 
Mr. John Moriey and Sir Charles Dilke for the flattering company of 
' hungry office-seekers ' and ' care-takers ' — ^the men who in 1885 
' had done more to lessen the authority of the law in Ireland than all 
the Radicals had said and done during the previous five years/ the 
men who had likened him to Jack Cade and the Artful Dodger, who 
had accused him of profligate promises and who had stormed him 
with ' torrents of abuse and whirlwinds of invective/ 

The author of ransom became the favourite of the wealthy. Old 
Radical friends described him basking in the smiles of duchesses, but 
the description had a grain of malice ; Mr. Chamberlain never troubled 
himself aboiit the smiles of any set ; he took his own course. Un- 
doubtedly, however, the opinion in which he was held by different 
classes veered completely. While an Irish member commented upon 
his ' well-earned reputation for turning somersaults in politics,* the 
Whig Duke of Argyll, who lectured him a few years previously, informed 
the House of Lords that Mr. Chamberlain had 'grown in political 
stature and wisdom.' He was denounced on the one hand by Liberals 
as an apostate and a renegade, a traitor and a deserter ; and on the 
other hand he himself said of the Tories and Whigs : ' I have found 
out that they are very good fellows, and they have found out that 
my measures are very safe measures.' 

An attitude of independent support or ' friendly opposition ' to 
a Government is generally, as Bagehot has pointed out, the most 
trying to pohtical reputation and it was as alien to the character of 
Mr. Chamberlain's mind as to Brougham's. He also was a ' rushing 
man ' with an ' aggressive intelligence.' Yet so deadly was his dislike 
of the party which he had quitted and so determined was he to be 
revenged on his former colleagues that he gave to the Conservative 
Administration as valuable assistance as any set of statesmen ever 
received from an ally. 

Time gradually confirmed the new coalition. The Liberal Union- 
ists entered into a compact with the Conservatives as to the seats 
which each section should contest against the common enemy, and Lord 
Hartington and Mr. Chamberlain developed their new organizations. 
A Liberal Unionist Association having been estabUshed in Birmingham 



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TRANSFORMATION 151 

in 1888, Mr. Chamberlain at the first combined meeting of the divisonal- 
councils on May 28, made a characteristic allusion to the political 
transformation. ' I regret that this new departure should have been 
forced upon us, but it became probable three years ago when the great 
leader of the Liberal party at a few weeks' notice turned his back upon 
all the old professions and principles that he had advocated during^ 
the greater part of his life, and surrendered to a faction whose policy 
he had denounced in eloquent language.' This was the gist of his 
contention during the early years of the transformation. ' It is you,'' 
he told the Gladstonians, ' who have changed and not I.' 

Those who take pleasure in speculation may inquire what would 
have happened if there had been no disruption of the Liberal party. 
For many years after that imfortimate occurrence Radicals fdt the 
want of a leader like Mr. Chamberlain, who could devise ingenious Parlia- 
mentary tactics and conduct great electioneering campaigns. If 
he had remained in the party he would admittedly have become chief. 
What would have been the history of the country under a Radical 
Government of which he was the head ? Would the land laws have 
been altered? Would the power of the House of Lords have 
been limited ? Would the Church have been disestablished ? Would 
war in the Transvaal have been avoided ? Would the fiscal poUcy^ 
of the coimtry have been left unchallenged ? Would Home Rule of 
some sort have been granted to Ireland ? Would the House of Com- 
mons have been dazzled by duels between Mr. Balfour and Mr. Cham- 
berlain as brilliant as those fought by Gladstone and Disraeli ? 

However these questions may be answered, it is imdoubted that 

the resignation of Mr. Chamberlain in the spring of 1886 produced 

effects further-reaching than were dreamt of at the time. Liberals- 

who parted from him with reluctance and regret hardened their hearts 

as time went on, and many of them when irritated told him that they 

would not take him back even if he desired to return. The feelings 

of the men who had ' followed him, honoured him ' were well expressed 

by Mr. Morley at Ipswich, in September, 1888, in Browning's familiar 

lines — 

He alone breaks from the van and the freemen. 
He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves I 

We shall march prospering, — ^not thro' his presence ; 

Songs may inspirit us, — ^not from his lyre ; 
Deeds will be done, — ^while he boasts his quiescence. 

Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire. 

Those critics, however, who predicted that Mr. Chamberlain, adrift 
from Mr. Gladstone and the Liberal party and associated with his^ 
erstwhile opponents, would sink to a negligible quantity in politics, 
were disappointed by the course of events. He became a stiU greater 



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T52 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

personality : he excited more attention and was even more discussed 
than before. In his new surroimdings he was as restless, as energetic, 
as persuasive as in the earlier sphere. Sir William Harcourt declared 
that he had set himself an impossible task in trying to hunt with 
the dukes and to run with the people, but Mr. Chamberlain, always 
'Sanguine, confident and resourceful, boasted of a change in policy ' which 
has made it possible that I, who have been a Radical all my life, and 
who have not changed one of the opinions which I have ever expressed, 
^ould support heartily and cordially a Government, every member of 
which, with one exception, is a Conservative.' 

His new friends sometimes found it rather difi&cult to manage him. 
When Mr. Bright died in the spring of 1889 Lord Randolph Chinrchill 
desired very much to obtain the seat for Central Birmingham which 
he had formerly contested, and a deputation of the local Conservatives 
came to the House of Commons with an invitation. The Tory democrat 
took counsel with Sir Michael Hicks-Beach and, according to an account 
of the affair by his friend, Mr. Jennings, which his son has published. Lord 
Hartington informed them that ' Chamberlain was furious at the idea 
of R. C. going to Birmingham — ^that he was in a state of extreme 
irritability.' Lord Randolph was induced to waive his claims, although 
the Tories of the constituency were so angry at being deprived of a 
popular candidate that Mr. Balfoin: had to go and reason with them. 
Mr. Chamberlain was suspected of a jealous dread of a rival who might 
win the allegiance of some of his own people. Naturally he disap- 
proved of two kings of Brentford smelling at the same nosegay. 

Recrimination between the regular Liberals and Mr. Chamberlain 
was sharpened to its keenest edge in 1889 by his persistent support of 
-Conservative ministers and measures. ^, Morley put an extra 
strain on a much tried friendship by a personal gibe. Noting that the 
comparison with Jack Cade, formerly applied to Mr. Chamberlain, had 
now been instituted by Lord Salisbury in his own case, he sarcastically 
said : ' Who knows but that I may be made a Fishery Commissioner 
and may be even admitted to the society of gentlemen ! ' Mr. Cham- 
berlain was hurt by this reflection on his American mission and the 
aristocratic company which he was supposed to keep. He com- 
plained that Mr. Morley in ' a very bitter and personal speech ' had 
taken the opportunity to insult ' an old friend who had never personally 
attacked him, and to whom in times past he was not unwilling to admit 
-considerable obligations.' Sir William Harcourt, never backward in 
such a controversy, dropped into poetry and acclaimed — 

When I think of what he is. 

And what he ought to was, 
I can't but think he's throwed hisself away 

Without sufficient cause. 



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TRANSFORMATION 153 

With still greater acerbity Mr. Chamberlain retorted by calling Sir 
William a chameleon and by asserting that his sword was always 
at the service of the strongest faction. It was only in his old age that 
some men ceased to call that most steadfast Liberal the Dugald Dalgetty 
of politics ! 



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XXI 

RECANTATION 

' T TIS forward voice now is to speak well of his friend : his back- 
JLX ward voice is to— detract.' Thus it was in the case of 
Unionist Mr. Chamberlain and his old friend, the Radical. The influence 
of new ideas and new associates was shown in the manner of his 
defence of royal grants when provision was made in 1889 for the 
Prince of Wdes's children. Not content with expressing his own 
opinion that the sum proposed was reasonable and moderate, he sneered 
with terrible bitterness at the Radicals who had told the House that 
' the People with a capital P ' thought it exorbitant. Such members, 
he said, ' represent the class jealousies, the petty spite, and the enmities 
which they do their utmost to stimulate ; they represent the superficial, 
popular prejudices to which they truckle.' Angry voices were buzzing 
near Mr. Chamberlain, and glances of antipathy were shot at him, but 
defying these manifestations and speaking in a tone of rancour he 
went on : ' Members tell us it is a shameful thing to fawn upon a 
monarch. So it is ; but it is a much more shameful thing to truckle 
to a multitude.* The erstwhile Republican who had exalted the 
voice of the multitude now challenged the Radicals to confess that their 
object was to make the monarchy impopular and to prepare the 
way for its destruction. ' Then,' he concluded, ' we shall see whether 
the People of whom we hear so much, who enjoy the fullest measure 
of political liberty under a constitution which is more democratic 
than exists in any Republic of Europe or the world — ^whether the 
People will be willing, when they imderstand ever3^hing, to enter 
upon a contest which must be prolonged, which must be exasperating, 
to throw the Constitution into the melting pot, to postpone indefinitely 
all hope of practical and material reform in order to accept the pro- 
granmie of those who call themselves new Radicals — new because they 
have nothing in common with the old Radicals, who are destruc- 
tive in their aims and objects, who have never shown the slightest 
constructive capacity, who are in short nothing more nor less than 
the Nihilists of English politics.' 

Few speeches have produced a more painful impression of in- 
consistency or have done more to alienate friends. Mr. Labouchere 
sneered at Mr. Chamberlain as a new recruit to the Gentlemen of 

154 



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RECANTATION 155 

England, and a merciless reply was given by Sir William Harcourt, 
who spoke with imiisual severity. 

The right honourable gentleman fsaid Sir William) talks of the cant of the 
new Radicalism. I will borrow a well-known saying of Lord John Russell that 
there was something more sickening than the cant of new Radicalism and that 
was the recant of old Radicalism.^ He talked of the People with a great P. 
Well, he has betaken himself now to greater people than he formerly associated 
with. He has spoken with spite and condemnation of those who stir up ani- 
mosities and jealousies among classes. Yes, but this lecture comes to us from 
the great preacher on the text which speaks of those ' who toil not neither do 
they spin.' According to him, we are Nihilists on this bench. I wonder my 
right honourable friend chooses a seat in such a very inflam^iable and dangerous 
quarter of the House. I confess that I am almost alarmed for his personal ^ety. 
As he stood at the box lecturing us on loyalty to our leader I could not help 
thinking it was a dissentient leader reproving sin.* I do not think that any 
advantage is to be derived from terming honourable gentlemen who hold one 
opinion by the name of disloyal, any more than if we were to call those who hold 
a different opinion parasites and sycophants. 

An elaborate rebuke which Mr. Chamberlain administered to Lord 
Randolph Churchill for expounding a policy which was not Conserva- 
tive showed in the smnmer of 1889 how far he had wandered 
from his old standpoint. The offence of the Tory Democrat was aggra- 
vated by the fact that it was conunitted in the Midlands. At Walsall 
he advocated legislation on land and housing and temperance ; and 
in Birmingham itself he ridiculed Mr. Podsnap who was accustomed 
to dilate on the hopeless and hereditary wickedness of the Irish people. 
A few days later Mr. Chamberlain, de^ng with the speeches of this 
' most distinguished nobleman/ predicted that his programme would 
be absolutely repudiated by Lord Salisbiuy and Mr. Balfour. 

I dare say (he continued) you have often seen at a bazaar or elsewhere a 
patchwork quilt brought out for sale, which is made up of scraps from old dresses 
and from, left-off garments which the maker has been able to borrow for the pur- 
pose. I am told that in America they caU a thing of this kind a ' crazy quilt. ' 
I think that the fancy programme which Lord Randolph ChurchiU put before 
you the other day may well be described as a ' crazy quilt.* He borrowed from 
the cast-off policy of all the extreme men of all the different sections. He took 
his Socialism from Mr. Bums and Mr. Hyndman ; he took his Local Option from 
Sir Wilfrid Lawson ; he took his Egyptian policy from Mr. Illingworth ; he 
took his Metropolitan reform from Mr. Stuart ; and he took his Irish policy from 
Mr. John Morley. 

The new friends of the old Radical attracted the attention of 

1 This was an adaptation of what was in Mr. Gladstone's opinion the best 
repartee ever given in P^liament. Sir Francis Burdett, an ex-Radical, attacking 
his former associates had said : * The most offensive thing in the world is the 
cant of Patriotism.' Lord John Russell replied : ' I quite agree that the cant 
of Patriotism is a very offensive thing, but the recant of Patriotism is more 
offensive still.' 

* * O Geordie, Jingling Geordie»* as King James says in The Fortunes of Nigel, 
* it was grand to hear Baby Charles laying down the guilt of dissimulation and 
Steenie lecturing on the turpitude of incontinence.' 



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156 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Punch as early as June, 1888. In a cartoon ' Joey C and Mr. Bung 
are represented drinking together. The former, in a showy check 
suit, with a pipe in his hand, holds up his glass and says to Mr. Bung , 
' I look towards you,' and the latter replies, ' Sir, I catches yer h'eye.' 
Bung recalls that he used to frown on vested interests but admits he 
has improved, whereupon ' Joey C denies that there's any change in 
him, although * as touching yourself, I would do the thing handsome.' 
In another cartoon he is seen walking between Bung and the Bishop ; * 
and this is part of their .conversation — 

Bishop — I am glad, Joe, to find you have altered your mind 
About Secular Schooling. Your late recantation— 

Brum — Further light, my dear Sir, dawns on all — save the blind. 
But recant ? — oh I pray spare me that insinuation — 
A term that is too theological I 

The idea of his friendship with ' Mr. Bung * was suggested by his 
support of the clauses of the Local Government Bill sanctioning com- 
pensation for extinguished licenses. In May, 1888, licence-holders 
of the Birmingham district interviewed the members for the locality 
with regard to these proposals and Mr. Chamberlain laid down the 
principle that when any legitimate interest, which had been brought 
into existence with the sanction of the Legislature, was interfered with 
on public grounds it was the duty of the community to compensate 
those whose interest was disturbed. He was, he said, strongly of 
opinion that compensation ought to be given to the publicans. So 
thorough was he in his championship of the Government that when Mr. 
Caine, the Liberal Unionist Whip, in 1890 opposed the provision in 
Mr. Goschen's Budget for the buying up of licences he showed great 
displeasure and a breach was caused between the old friends which 
was followed by Mr. Caine's abandonment of the Unionist party. 

Recantation was offered by the old Radical on a variety of subjects 
before the Parliament elected in 1886 was dissolved in 1892. Although 
he said in an early stage of his friendship with the Conservatives that 
he had not changed any of his opinions, yet on Home Rule he frankly 
confessed in a letter, dated July 10, 1891, that * all that has happened 
since 1885 has shaken my confidence in the particular solution of the 
Irish question which I was then prepared heartily to support.' This 
referred to the scheme of National Councils. 

With regard to the doctrine of Ransom, Mr. Chamberlain pleaded 
at the end of 1891, in Birmingham, where he had propounded it in 
1885, that the ' word was not very well chosen to express my own 

> In the Fortnightly for October, 1874, Mr. Chamberlain had included the 
licensed victualler and the Established Church parson among the holders of 
special immunities and advantages who ' combine to resist the aggression which 
threatens any of their separate interests.' 



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RECANTATION 157 

meaning.' In the foDowing March, on being challenged as to whether 
he receded from the doctrine, he wrote to say that the expression had 
been misrepresented and distorted by The Times when he was accused 
of advocating a policy of blackmail on the richer classes. To show 
that this charge was entirely untrue, he mentioned a number of points 
in his unauthorized programme which had been dealt with by the 
Conservative Government, and he added that ' he had never in any way 
withdrawn the opinions which he expressed in 1885, but he had in 
several speeches admitted that the word ransom (which was not his 
own, but which was really borrowed from a member of the Conserva- 
tive party) was open to misrepresentation, and was not the best for 
the purpose of expressing his meaning.' This was regarded as a 
diplomatic abandonment of the doctrine. 

Again, the Radical who had strongly denounced plural representa- 
tion in other days, adopted in 1891 a dilatory attitude when Mr. Stans- 
feld moved in favour of ' one man one vote ' and the reduction of the 
term of qualification. While declaring that he maintained his former 
opinions he placed himself in line with the Conservatives by saying : 
* You have enough of reform for any reasonable purpose. You have a 
House which now is both willing and capable to deal with questions 
which I believe are first in the hearts of the people. ... I say dis- 
tinctly that as far as I am concerned I think the time has not yet come 
for a new Reform Bill, and that what we have to do is to make the 
best of the old one.' He was reminded that in 1885 he pressed eagerly 
for reforms such as now in 1891 he considered premature, and he 
was taunted with having become a convert to the idea, which he 
formerly ridiculed, that the highest aim of statesmanship was — 

To promise, pause, prepare, postpone,' 
And end by letting things alone. 

To keep Mr. Gladstone out of office, however, was now his dominating 
impulse. 

Old friends sorrowed specially when he parted from them on the 
education question. This they regarded as a touchstone. It was 
on account of concessions to Chiu-chmen that Mr. Chamberlain 
in the early seventies denounced Mr. Forster, threatened Mr. Gladstone 
and withheld support from Liberal candidates. In those days he was 
for a universal scheme of unsectarian schools under local control. 
He declared in 1868 that the motive of the clergy in establishing and 
maintaining schools had been ' not the education of the people as a 
thing which is good in itself but the maintenance of the doctrines of 
the Church of England.' In 1872 he insisted that ' the representatives 
of the ratepayer must have absolute control of all national funds 
applied to seoilar education ; all grants for this purpose made to 



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158 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

denominational bodies must be withdrawn ; religious teaching should 
be relegated to religious bodies, each at its own time and in its own 
buildings.' His doctrine was smnmed up that year in a paper read 
at a Suffolk Nonconformist Conference — 

Let the State keep to its proper work and fit its children to take their places 
as citizens of a great empire, and let it leave their religious training and all that 
concerns their education for the kingdom which is not of this world to the care 
of ^e Churches and the responsibility of the parents. 
« 

At the General Election in 1874 he signed an appeal issued by 
the National Education League exhorting the electors to obtain 
pledges from candidates tO resist any further concessions to denom- 
inational interests, and ' generally to promote the objects contem- 
plated by the advocates of an imsectarian system of national education, 
controDed by the elected representatives of the ratepayers.' On 
the same occasion, at Sheffield, he said as regarded the schools he 
was willing that Scripture should be read and religious instruction 
given, but not at the expense of the ratepayers. Again in January, 
1877, he wrote — 

The efforts of all lovers of justice, and of all friends of education, must now 
be directed to the establishment of the principle that representation shall go 
band in hand with taxation, and that no grant of nationad or local funds shall 
be made to any school, a majority of whose managing body does not consist of 
representatives elected by the district for the purpose. 

To the close of his connexion with the Liberal party, Mr. Chamber- 
lain maintained his early convictions. He said at Bradford in October, 
1885 : ' Whenever the time comes for the discussion of the question 
of sectarian schools I for one shall not hesitate to express my opinion 
that contributions of Government money, whether great or small, 
ought in all cases to be accompanied by some form of representative 
control. To my mind the spectacle of so-called national schools, 
turned into a private preserve by clerical managers, and used for 
exclusive purposes of politics or religion, is one which the law ought 
not to tolerate.' 

These declarations were recalled in 1888, when his name was 
cheered at a meeting of the National Society for Promoting the Educa- 
tion of the Poor in the Principles of the Church of England. In 
opening a Board school at Birmingham he pointed out how greatly 
the denominational system had benefited by the Act of 1870, and he 
urged its friends to rest satisfied with the system as it stood, warning 
them that they would have to submit to local control if they accepted 
aid from the rates. At the same time, as the niunber of denomina- 
tional schools had enormously increased, he said he did not think the 
nation was prepared even for their ' painless extraction.' ' No 
practical statesman would,' in his opinion, ' dare to propose a 



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RECANTATION 159 

measure which would be followed by the immediate withdrawal or ex- 
tinction of this system and by the consequent enormous expense which 
that would involve.' This statement was regarded as deeply signifi- 
cant by grateful Churchmen. The Archbishop of Canterbury, at a 
meeting of the National Society, described it as a recognition of the 
place that voluntary schools must have in the education of the people. 
' The words,' as he said, ' were the more weighty because the speaker 
of them was making a recantation of former opinions.' Punch 
promptly seized the new friendship for its cartoon, and in vain did Mr. 
Chamberlain object to ' recantation.' 

When the subject of free schools was raised in 1890 it became 
necessary for him to get into line with the Conservatives. His plea 
now was that the denominational question ought not to be re-opened. 
Liberals who had sat at his feet and learned the doctrines quoted in 
these pages contended that if additional grants were given there 
should be popular control. ' Why ! ' exclaimed Mr. Chamberlain, 
'this proposal is on the face of it ridiculous. The supporters of 
voluntary schools would not accept it ; therefore it means the ex- 
tinction of the voluntary system, and that is a practically intolerable 
proposition.' If voluntary schools were abolished we would have to 
provide for a capital expenditure of £28,000,000 to £40,000,000 and 
an annual charge of £1,680,000, in addition to the existing rates. 
' As a practical man,' he was not prepared to face such an enormous 
burden. His new doctrine was cheered by his old adversaries. ' It 
is not the doctrine,' remarked Sir William Harcourt, ' that I learned 
from him in the days of the Birmingham League.' 

In 1891, when the fee-grant was proposed by the Conservatives 
Mr. Chamberlain definitely renounced an early belief. He had, he 
said, come to the conclusion that it was ' not desirable, practicable 
or politic ' to ask for public control over denominational schools. 
He urged the Churchmen to accept some sort of popular representa- 
tion, but when Sir Henry Fowler submitted an amendment requiring 
the introduction of local representation in denominational schools 
receiving the fee-grant, he opposed it on the plea that it would be 
impossible to force such a system upon them. Universal Board schools 
were ' only a counsel of perfection,' and he did not think the desire 
for popular control would induce people to put their hands deeply 
into their pockets. When another amendment was moved that no 
religious catechism or formulary distinctive of any particular de- 
nomination should be taught in any school obtaining the fee-grant, 
Hr. Chamberlain taunted its supporters with subordinating the 
interests of education to the interests of aggressive Nonconformity. 
In sorrow Mr. Mundella said he seemed to have turned his back on all 
his former convictions. Dr. Dale vouched from personal knowledge 



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i6o JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

that the line he followed at this stage was absolutely consistent with 
the course he took in 1885, but the variations in his pubUc utterances 
at different periods were obvious to everybody. 

On Irish land legislation his versatility was almost equally con- 
spicuous. A Liberal statesman remarked that he had spent months 
in discussing his numerous land purchase plans. They had all been 
ingenious and remarkable, and they had all been different. Mr. 
Chamberlain opposed Mr. Gladstone's Land Bill of 1886, on account 
of the obligations and risk it imposed on the British taxpayer. He 
displayed ingenuity in reconciling this opposition with the support 
which he gave to Mr. Balfoiu-'s proposals. According to the criticism 
of Sir William Harcourt he skated on thin ice, and formed the figure 
eight with agility and skill. He objected to some of the provisions 
of the Conservative bill of 1890, which was dropped, and his objections 
were removed by the bill passed in the following year. The founda- 
tion of the new scheme, he admitted, was the use of British credit, 
but he explained that his former pledges were not violated by his 
support of this measure, because Ireland was now retained as an int^;ral 
part of the United Kingdom. What he had ' always ' objected to 
was the use or risk of British credit for a country to be placed in an 
independent position. It may be pointed out, however, that at the 
Round Table Conference, even while insisting that any system of 
Home Rule should preserve the unquestioned supremacy of the 
imperial Parliament, he contended that the land scheme should be 
based entirely upon Irish credit and Irish resources. 

An acrimonious temper continued through all these controversies 
to characterize the warring Liberal sections. Mr. Chamberlain charged 
the Gladstonians with being ' a party of disintegration,' and with 
deserting the principles of a lifetime at the bidding of ' an imperious 
leader.' When taunted on his own alliance with the Tories, he re- 
torted by scolding old friends for their alliance with a party which 
desired to separate Ireland from Great Britain. Scorn was heaped 
with unmeasured hand upon the Liberal Unionists, Mr. Gladstone 
describing them as ' that unhappy, unfortunate, iU-starred abortion 
of a party.' When Mr. Chamberlain referred with disapproval to 
the action of the Government of 1880-85 Mr. Morley severely censured 
the conduct of a man who sat at a council table with coUeagues, and 
who after a few years had elapsed, to serve some paltry purpose of 
the moment, held them up to obloquy and contempt. Such conduct, 
in his opinion, was a case of hitting below the belt, for which they did 
not find a parallel in the worst times of our political history. The 
penitent insisted, however, on his right to acknowledge mistakes in 
action for which he was jointly responsible. ' He is free,' retorted 
his old friend, ' if he is so minded to figure in a white sheet ; he is not 



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RECANTATION i6i 

free to plant his colleagues in the pillory and pelt them with 
missiles.' 

The Unionist alliance was strengthened in 1891. Mr. Chamberlain 
appeared then in Birmingham on a conmion platform with the Con- 
servatives. Addressing a joint Unionist meeting and referring to 
his co-operation with those who were formerly his opponents, he 
said : * We have both of us to put a good nimiber of our prejudices 
and our opinions in our pockets. In some respects in which they 
think I was going too far, I am content to wait ; in some respects 
in which I do not think they are going far enough they are content 
to go further.' A few days later a demonstration, promoted by the 
two local sections of the Unionist party, took place in the Town Hall, 
and was addressed by Mr. Matthews, the Home Secretary in the 
Conservative Government, as well as by Mr. Chamberlain. Thus 
the Radical Unionists followed in the step which the leader of the 
Whig Unionists took five years earlier. The local coalition was 
completed at a luncheon on November 25, when both branches of 
the predominant party in Birmingham entertained Lord Salisbury 
who declared that the Conservatives had received from their allies a 
measure of unstinted support which was new to Parliamentary history. 
Mr. Chamberlain, alluding to his former hope of reconciliation with 
the Liberals, took this notable occasion to say that now he neither 
looked for nor desired reunion. In this manner he threw down the 
last renmant of the bridge between himself and the party led by Mr. 
Gladstone,. 

In legislation the effect of the alliance was obvious. The author of 
the unauthorized Liberal programme boasted that the Conservative 
Government had carried out the whole of it ' in principle at all events.' 
Certainly, under intuition of ' a minister without a portfolio ' they 
made remarkable progress in reform. County Councils were estab- 
lished in England, Wales, and Scotland (1888-89) » ^^^ education, 
won by the ingenuity of the Scots in 1889, was extended to the re- 
mainder of the coimtry in 1891, the Government yielding in this 
matter to pressure by the Liberals ; and facilities were granted for 
the obtaining of allotments and small holdings, although they were so 
limited and restricted that they proved of less value than their pro- 
moters expected. Mr. Chamberlain, grateful for what he could get, 
refrained from driving his friends on the Treasury bench too hard. 
For instance, when compulsory powers were proposed in connection 
with the Small Holdings Bill (1892) he opposed the amendment because 
the Government would not agree to it, and it would therefore be fatal 
to. the measure. His consideration for Conservative feelings drew 
upon him an outburst of sarcasm from Mr. Gladstone, who appealed 
for ' a little of the ancient faith which he used to have.' 

II 



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i62 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

I do not ask him to urge all his principles and all his opinions with the vehem- 
ence, and in the alarming terms by which in other days he excited such horror 
among honourable members opposite, by which he contrived to scare from the 
Liberal party many good though timid men who are now associated with him in 
the closest and most harmonious relations ; I will not ask him to revert to his 
Yimous dicta, by which he earned an immortality, not perhaps altogether accept- 
able to his present humour ; but I ask him in some degree to recall the senti- 
ments cherished by him in his youth, and in his middle age, to join with us — at 
least so ^ as reason will support our proposition — in something better than 
referring to the discretion and arbitrary will of the Government opposite, to say 
whether some improvement in our law shall take place or not. 

This passage, spoken in a mocking tone by the Grand Old Man 
as he stood beside his former lieutenant, was driven home by the 
cheers of the Liberals. 



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XXII 
NEW LEADERS AND NEW CRIES 

THE formal leadership of a Parliamentary party was at last 
obtained by Mr. Chamberlain in 1892. Lord Hartington, 
whose steadfast, disinterested support of the Conservative Govern- 
ment contributed to its long life, had succeeded his father as Duke of 
Devonshire, and on February 8, at a meeting of the Liberal Unionist 
members, his Radical colleague was appointed their leader in the 
House of Commons. The duke described him as the most brilliant 
member of the advanced section of the Liberal party, and Sir Henry 
James, who might have been set up as a rival, spoke of him as the one 
man who could fill the vacant position. Mr. Chamberlain said he 
had always been an advanced Liberal and had in no sense changed 
his views. At the same time he made a significant remark with 
reference to disestablishment. He stated that he had been, and 
still was willing to subordinate his opinions on that subject to the 
interests of the Union, but subject to this reservation, he retained his 
freedom to put them forward when he thought right to do so. 
This was a reservation which betrayed uneasiness either on his own 
part or on the part of some of those with whom he was acting. Con- 
servative journalists, with obvious misgivings, urged him to be pru- 
dent, now that he was in a position of responsibility. ' The statesman, ' 
one of his monitors wrote, ' who has to act as guide and moderator 
at St. Stephen's will be careful, no doubt, not to compromise his 
authority by an indiscreet or extravagant insistence on remote and 
contentious issues.' 

Mr. Chamberlain's leadership increased the antipathy between 
Liberals and Liberal Unionists. Lord Hartington had not incurred 
personal dislike. Although he struck hard, he provoked no ill-wiU. 
Radicals concentrated their anger on the politician from whom they 
had expected most, and whose motives they impugned. After his 
declaration in the hearing of Lord Salisbury at the end of 1891, that 
he neither looked for nor desired reimion with his former colleagues, 
renewed objection was taken to his presence near Mr. Gladstone on 
the front exposition bench. He still insisted, however, on his right 
to a seat there. * Where are the Whigs ? ' he scornfully asked, in 
his first authoritative speech — a speech in which he defended Lord 

163 



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i64 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Salisbury, and challenged his opponents to declare their policy on 
Ireland and Egypt. Amid great cheering Mr. Morley retorted by 
asking — ' Where is the Radical ? * 

Two other new chiefs appeared at the beginning of 1892. Mr. 
W. H. Smith, one of the least eloquent men who ever led the House 
of Commons,^ died during the recess, and his place was taken by 
Mr. Balfoiu" ; Mr. Pamell's life had at the same time expired in gloom, 
and his group was henceforth directed by Mr. John Redmond, imder 
whom all the Nationalists were subsequently joined. Mr. Chamber- 
lain's relations with Mr. Smith's successor became thoroughly cordial. 
There was little in conmion between them in tradition or temperament 
but they were imited in a determination to resist ' Gladstonianism,' 
and especially to defeat Home Rule. With this object, as Mr. Cham- 
berlain said, both put a good number of their opinions in their pockets. 
Some of his own slipped out and disappeared. 

The old Liberal chief was meanwhile preparing for the final effort 
of his life, and as the struggle approached, his former lieutenant's 
attacks upon him swelled in vehemence. He showed no feeling of 
respect in strictures on 'the imperious leader.' While more than 
ever considering him a giant among pygmies, Mr. Chamberlain re- 
marked with regret that Mr. Gladstone had allowed his great name 
and reputation to cover the proceedings of persons who were alto- 
gether unworthy of him, and to cloak the designs and the methods of 
a faction whom, in the maturity of his judgment, he described as 
the enemies of his country. An impression of the reserve which had 
crept into their commimications may be gathered from the following 
minute account, given by the present writer at the time of an 
incident which occurred in March, 1892, on the aged statesman's 
return from a sojourn in France : ' — 

When Mr. Chamberlain arrived at the House, he found Mr. Gladstone in the 
comer usually occupied by himself. The member for Midlothian had moved 
there in order to hear the speeches of his Irish friends on the Belfast Bill. Mr. 
Chamberlain, seeing the position of affairs, did not advance beyond the bar. A 
quarter of an hour later he looked in from behind the Speaker's chair, and re- 
mained a few minutes, but his old chief was still in the comer, and he did not 
seek to disturb him. So he went away again. When he came back once more 
just as questions were commencing, his seat was occupied by Mr. Robert Spencer. 
He advanced to claim it, and on seeing him Mr. Spencer at once moved to another 
place. Mr. Chamberlain now found himself the neighbour of Mr. Gladstone. 
The position of the two gentlemen was observed by the whole House, and evi- 

* A man, sajrs Mr. Massey in his history, who speaks seldom and who speaks 
ill is the best leader of the House of Commons. ' And, no doubt,' adds Mr. 
Bagehot, * the slow-speeched English gentleman rather sympathizes with slow 
speech in others.' Mr. Smith was slow-speeched, but while he spoke seldom he 
spoke sensibly. 

■ Aberdeen Free Press. 



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NEW LEADERS AND NEW CRIES 165 

dently much interest was felt as to what would happen. There was a consider- 
able space between them, so that no recognition was absolutely necessary. Mr. 
Chamberlain, however, moved up to Mr. Gladstone and shook hands with him. 
The member for Midlothian was as courteous as usual, but seemed cold in manner. 
He conversed for a few moments with his former lieutenant, holding his hand 
behind his ear, and looking |[rave and stem. Then he turned round, as if to 
Usten to what vna being said m the House, and Mr. Chamberlain promptly with- 
drew to his own place. 

During the General Election in summer the Unionist champion 
caused deep offence by his harsh allusions to Mr. Gladstone. At 
Birmingham he remarked : ' In the last few years we have seen a 
section of the Liberal party — alas ! that I should stand here and be 
obliged to confess it — we have seen them exhibiting a blind sub- 
servience to a leader who in his old age has forgotten the principles 
which he expounded so eloquently in his splendid maturity.' A 
fortnight later he spoke in a similar strain. ' It is sad to think/ 
said Mr. Chamberlain, ' that now in his old age the dignified statesman 
should give place to the furious mob orator. He appears to be losing 
his head and losing his temper.' Taunts such as these embittered a 
quarrel which was sufl&ciently lamentable without any aggravation. 
Dr. Dale felt constrained to write that the split in the party had 
made an immense difference in his private life. It sundered 
friendships even in Birmingham. 

The electioneering argument presented incisively by Mr. Chamber- 
lain might be stmmied up in his words : ' From Unionists you will 
get a policy of reform ; from the Home Rulers you can get Home 
Rule and nothing else.' Even in the case of Ireland, he boasted of 
the record of the Conservative Government : peace and tranquillity 
restored, the benefits of Mr. Gladstone's Land Act conferred upon 
leaseholders, three Land Purchase Acts carried, and a system of relief 
for congested districts introduced. We have seen that several points 
in his own programme had been adopted. As for the future, he con- 
tended that the Unionists alone could carry the measures desired by 
the Liberals. He told the Welsh that by the introduction of Home 
Rule the question of religious equality was indefinitely postponed. 
A letter from him read at a meeting at Ruabon on December 29, 
1891, caused a great deal of conunent and among his Conservative 
allies not a little consternation. * I am convinced,' he wrote, ' that 
the only chance for the speedy satisfaction of the legitimate claims of 
Welsh Nonconformity is to be foimd in the defeat of Home Rule. 
Every Welsh Dissenter who votes for a Gladstonian at the next 
election votes, first, for the indefinite postponement of Welsh dis- 
establishment and land reform.' This attempt to catch votes with 
the bait of disestablishment was ridiculed by Liberals, who predicted 
that Mr. Chamberlain would secure only a very small basket, while 



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i66 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Conservatives disliked its use by one with whom they might be 
associated in Government. 

Another bait was offered in the form of old age pensions. Mr. 
Chamberlain, as the reader will see, denied in after years that he 
had ever given a definite promise of pensions, but at this crisis he 
dangled them before the voters. At several meetings in 1891 he 
proposed them in lieu of Home Rule, and during the Election in 1892 
he brought the proposal ' into the front rank of political questions.' 
There is no doubt that the prospect of provision for old age excited 
the expectations of many poor people. It is equally certain that 
Mr. Chamberlain's sanguine temperament led him to beUeve that a 
pension scheme was within the range of practical politics. If he 
deceived others, he deceived also himself. 

Enormous energy was displayed by Mr. Chamberlain during Mr. 
Gladstone's final appeal for power. He delivered more speeches in 
July, 1892, than in any other month in his life. His vigour and enthusi- 
asm aroused the Midlands, and stimulated Unionists everjnvhere!in 
the country. To keep his old chief out— or at any rate to prevent him 
from having a working majority — ^was the object to which he devoted 
all his electioneering resoiu"ces. His quarrel with the Gladstonians 
was not now limited to the Irish question, but extended to the whole 
scope and range of politics, and it was intensified by personal feeling 
to a much greater extent than the ordinary struggles between the two 
great parties in the State. The real leader on the Government side 
was not any Conservative holder of ofl&ce but the Liberal statesman 
who had been ' a Minister without a portfolio.' While he spoke 
professedly as a Radical, he fought whole-heartedly for all the Con- 
servative causes, and it was against him chiefly that the champions 
on the other side pressed. He was a conspicuous target in the field, 
and all aimed at him their hardest blows. 

The battle went slightly in favour of the Home Rulers, taking the 
United Kingdom as a whole, but Mr. Chamberlain came out of it with 
honour. Speaking of the four counties of which Birmingham is the 
metropolis, he was able to boast that the Unionists had almost swept 
their enemies from the ground. He found additional consolation in 
the feict that they had obtained a majority in Great Britain itself. 
Mr. Gladstone was disappointed. His electioneerers had been, as 
in 1886, too confident, although not so fax astray as then. He had 
expected to outnumber his opponents by eighty or a hundred, and 
instead of that the combined Liberals and Nationalists were in a 
majority of only forty. 

A remarkable scene was witnessed in the new Parliament, when 
Mr. Chamberlain rising again from the front Opposition bench, took 
part in the debate which preceded the change of Government. Mr. 



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NEW LEADERS AND NEW CRIES 167 

Asquith from a back seat had in his cool, trenchant style, and with his 
finished rhetoric, moved an amendment of no confidence in the Con- 
servative advisers of Her Majesty. His motion was submitted on 
August 8, and three days later the House was crowded to a degree 
reached only on the very rarest occasions. The benches were supple* 
mented by chairs, which were placed near the bar. Mr. Chamberlain, 
greeted by the newly-chosen Unionists with an enthusiasm which 
expressed their pride and gratitude, delivered a brilliant speech expos- 
ing the different poUcies of the different sections of the Home Rule 
majority, and cross-examining the leaders as to their views on great 
topics. He expressed the fear that a Liberal Government would 
decide on an immediate, or at all events an early evacuation of Egypt. 
Ten years previously he had ridiculed the idea of annexation or of a 
Protectorate, or even of an indefinite supervision of the country on 
the Nile. ' We think,' he then said, ' our possessions are sufl&ciently 
ample, our duties and responsibiUties too onerous and complicated.' 
But in the interval he had cast of! his ' parochial-mindedness ' and 
now his tone was imperial. ' I do not beUeve that democracies are 
anything but keenly sensitive to the honour and interests of the nation 
to which they belong, and I do not believe that the British democracy 
will favour a policy of scuttle.' This was one of his parting declara* 
tions as he quitted the company of Mr. Gladstone and the Liberal 
lieutenants, never again to sit with them on the same bench. When he 
returned to the front Opposition bench he was in the company of 
Conservatives. That, however, was many years later. 

An interesting French view of Mr. Chamberlain at this period was 
given by Monsieur Filon.* It is sympathetic, and not without dis- 
crimination. ' He is,' writes the French observer, ' the man of the 
present hour ; he marks the second age of democracy, that in which, 
after having destroyed, it has the mission and the duty to rebuild. 
. . . Mr. Chamberlain is more powerful than ever. ... He triumphs 
in the midst of the defeat of his party. In his first speech in this Par- 
liament he has displayed all his oratorical mastery, that smiling force, 
that mixture of energy and finesse which characterizes him, with that 
intelligence of the time, that touch of modernity which makes of him 
the first interpreter and the sole possible regulator of the needs and the 
passions of the democracy.' 

Before following the fighter to his fierce, final struggle with his old 
chief, the reader may turn for a moment to Highbury, and obtain a 
glimpse of a dinner party at his home. The picture is given by observ- 
ant and friendly Dr. Crosskey, who in failing health, writes at the 
close of 1892 : ' Last week I confess to a rather adventurous expedi- 
tion in the shape of a dinner at Chamberlain's, where luxuries were 

* Profils anglais, by A. Filon. 



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i68 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

not exactly the product of invalid cookery. But it was to meet a 
bishop, and therefore, of course, a temptation to such a hybrid ecclesi- 
astic as I am. But the occasion was a remarkable instance of the 
thorough way Chamberlain does things. You know the Bishop of 
Chester has been propounding a scheme about the Drink traffic, in 
which Chamberlain is greatly interested, and he therefore invites him 
to dinner, and asks to meet him one of the chief Brewers of Birmingham, 
one of the strongest of Teetotallers, another Bishop (Coventry), and 
some leading clergy. Dale and myself as Nonconformists, and some few 
others, Tories and Gladstonians. After dinner he (as it were) took the 
chair, and opened a discussion on the subject, in which teetotallers, 
publicans and sinners, and dignitaries of the church, and dissenters 
took part in a perfectly frank and good-tempered way, while Chamber- 
lain kept on the watch for something that might be practicable in the 
strife of parties.' * The open-minded impartiality of Highbury was in 
vivid contrast to the emphasis and pugnacity of ParUament and the 
public platform. 

* Henry William Crosskey : His Life and Work, by R. A. Armstrong. 



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XXIII 

LAST DUEL WITH GLADSTONE 

' A LOST soul ' was the hideous aspect in which an Irish member 
Jl\ and journalist with the eyes of resentment saw Mr. Chamber- 
lain at the opening of his final struggle with Mr. Gladstone. The 
phrase, like the repeated cry of ' Judas ! ' revealed the passion of 
the time. It recalled what Macaulay wrote in a letter describing 
the canying of the Reform Bill in 1831 : ' And the jaw of Peel fell ; 
and the face of Twiss was as the face of a danmed soul ; and Herries 
looked like Judas taking his necktie off for the last operation.' The 
hate of the Home Rulers was concentrated on Mr. Chamberlain. 
He was their arch-enemy — ^the man who, as they said, betrayed Mr. 
Gladstone, and who was now most greatly to be feared. He crossed 
the floor of the House with the Liberals when his old chief took ofl&ce 
for the last time, forty-eight Unionists sitting below the Ministerial 
gangway, and their leader occupying the comer at the head of the 
third bench. From this post, with constant vigilance and unwavering 
tenacity, he waged war on the new Government, while the Nationalists 
looked across at him with hate. 

His terrible feeling against his former friends was commented 
upon even by his principal colleague. In a letter to Mr. Goschen, who 
had decided to join the Conservative party, the Duke of Devonshire 
wrote on January 10, 1893 : ' To tell the absolute truth, in confidence, I 
think that Chamberlain, though his tone was perfectly friendly towards 
you, wiD be more at ease when he knows of your decision. Both 
Chamberlain and H. James are in high spirits and are full of fight. 
The animosity of the former against the Government is something 
quite remarkable.'* 

The presence of Unionists in the midst of the Gladstonians when 
Home Rule was the supreme issue, was considered no less disagreeable 
than had been the company of their leaders on the front Opposition 
bench in the previous Parliament. If parties had been arranged 
according to their poUtical inclinations, the Nationalists would have 
gone with the Liberals to the Government side, and Mr. Chamberlain's 
followers would have sat with the Conservatives on the Opposition 
benches, but this plan could not be carried out, as the Irish Home 
» Life of Lord Goschen, by the Hon. Arthur D. Elliot. 



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170 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Rulers always maintain the same position in the House. Whichever 
party is in power they remain in an attitude of formal aloofness and 
independence. It was decided that two benches on the Ministerial 
side should be reserved for the Liberal Unionists, but unpleasantness 
was not prevented by this allocation of seats. Gladstonians resented 
the presence of enemies in their camp and Mr. Chamberlain was 
described as stabbing their leader in the back. Never did he in Par- 
Uament confront Mr. Gladstone face to face. They were always bodily 
on the same side. 

Their prolonged duel over the Home Rule Bill of 1893 was the most 
desperate and brilliant in modem Parliamentary warfare. No mercy 
was shown by either. The memory of other days, when as leader 
and lieutenant they stood shoulder to shoulder, served only to intensify 
their passion. Sometimes victory leaned to one side, sometimes to 
the other. The Liberal chief with expiring energy put forth his splen- 
did matchless powers. In the colleague whom he had raised to the 
Cabinet he met an antagonist who excited him to the highest efforts, 
and spectators were thrilled by the flashing features, the grand 
gestures, the swelling tones of the veteran as he turned on nimble- 
witted Mr. Chamberlain, and met taunts with raillery and con- 
suming scorn. Sometimes he sat huddled on the Treasury bench, 
looking as if exhausted by the cares of State, with face puckered, and 
hand coiled behind ear. Then suddenly he would spring to his feet, 
his figure would expand, his deep voice would clutch the House, and 
he would show no less physical vigour than intellectual force. With 
amazement, and even with awe — 

We watch'd the fount of fiery life 
Which served for that titanic strife. 

In his leadership Mr. Gladstone received all the assistance which 
party loyalty and personal affection could prompt from his deputy, 
Sir William Harcourt, who relieved him in the late hours whenever 
he could be induced to stay away. The arrangement was described 
by a witty lawyer who rose to the bench as that of ' the greater light 
to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.' Mr. Asquith, 
who had entered the Cabinet as Home Secretary, gave brilliant 
aid, and Mr. Morley, although not so prominant as in 1886, was a stiff 
fighter for the Home Rule Bill. Mr. Gladstone inspired all his col- 
leagues with zeal. They thought it an honour to serve so famous a 
chief. On himself, however, fell the principal duty and labour in 
defence of Home Rule. It was to carry out his Irish policy that he 
spent his old age in the political arena ; this was his final fight in a 
scene where he had stood foremost, and he would not have been mortal 
if he were not touched in some degree by personal rivalry. In Glad- 
stone, as in Savonarola, there was ' the blending of ambition with the 



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LAST DUEL WITH GLADSTONE 171 

highest motives.' Conviction and ambition incited him now to an 
effort worthy of his fame. 

On the front Opposition bench sat several skilful debaters — ^Mr. 
Balfour, Mr. Goschen, and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach. Along with 
them was Lord Randolph Churchill. No place had been found for 
him in Lord Salisbury's Government after he quitted it at the end of 
1886, but now that the Conservatives were in Opposition he was 
welcomed back among the leaders. Great expectations were enter- 
tained when he rose once more at the table to take part in debate. 
The Prince of Wales came to hear him, and the chamber was crammed 
to every comer. Few persons, however, who were present at the 
opening of the speech in which the once audacious fighter, now ill and 
nervous, craved the indulgence of the House, would desire to see 
again such a pathetic picture. The trembling voice, the twitching 
face, the restless hands, gave pain to men who recalled the bold, dash- 
ing, reckless leader of the Fourth Party. There were a few flashes 
in this and subsequent speeches, but they were merely the flickers 
of an expiring career, and the combatant, who crossed swords with 
Mr. Chamberlain in other days, and whose ally he had become, was 
doomed to eat his heart out in failing health, while the other led 
the resistance to what he described as ' the great betrayal.' 

Mr. Chamberlain was always in the thickest of the fight. His 
speeches were as pungent and vivacious as those he delivered against 
the Tories in 1885. Night after night he dashed into conflict, attacking 
with inexhaustible devices the provisions of the bill, denouncing the 
Liberal leaders and exposing the tactics of the Nationalists. He 
received stinging provocation in the gibes and jeers of Home Rulers, 
and his retort was always ready and always merciless. His favourite 
hour was ten o'clock, an hour at which the House was usually respon- 
sive. In evening dress, with eye-glass adjusted, the picture of keen- 
ness and ruthlessness, the master of every art of controversy, he would 
rise at his comer and by a phrase or a tone arrest the attention and 
stimulate the ardour of the antagonists. His aggressive face was in 
itself an incitement. In his absence, the fight might be aimless and 
languid, but as soon as he re-entered it the animation of all parties 
was revived. In words which Mr. Morley applied to Robert Lowe's 
opposition to the Reform Bill his resistance might be described as 
'glittering, energetic, direqt and swift.' 

Even names continued to be matter of reproach and recrimination. 
Followers of Mr. Gladstone still gave to Mr. Chamberlain and his 
friends the title of dissentient Liberals, but against this their old col- 
leagues always protested warmly, claiming, indeed, to be as good and 
proper Liberals as Mr. Gladstone. ' We do not caU you separatists,' 
said Ifr. Chamberlain to the supporters of the Government, although 



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172 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

he had previously done so on the platform, ' and I ask you to 
call us by the name we have chosen.' The independent name 
of Liberal Unionists was conceded reluctantly. At the same time 
the main party, although proud of their leader, objected to being 
called Gladstonians. They insisted on the simple description, 
' Liberals.' 

The introduction of the Home Rule Bill by Mr. Gladstone on Feb- 
ruary 13, 1893, caused enormous excitement. Members waited for 
hours before the doors were opened ; when admission was obtained 
they rushed forward, elbowing and jostling each other ; they strode 
over benches in their haste to secure seats, and they seized whatever 
vacant place they could reach, perspiring and panting. Chairs were 
introduced in front of the bar and also at the upper end of the House. 
Peers overcrowded their own gallery in a moment, and Lord Rosebery 
and Lord Spencer found better accommodation among the strangers. 
The Prince of Wales with his son the Duke of York at his side, sat over 
the dock, and his future daughter-in-law, then Princess May, was 
among the ladies behind the grille. When Mr. Gladstone entered, the 
Nationalists, followed by the Liberals, sprang to their feet and cheered 
the old man. It was in these circumstances that the scheme which 
led to so momentous a struggle was submitted, and the excitement 
lasted for months. 

A summary of the debates is not attempted here. Only enough will 
be reproduced to illustrate the incidents in which Mr. Chamberlain 
figured. Even in 1893 he was not against Home Rule in the abstract, 
but he contended that Mr. Gladstone's bill was not consistent with the 
unity of the Empire, the supremacy of Parliament, or the protection of 
minorities. It would, in his opinion, lead to separation, and Ireland 
could not become independent without being a source of danger to the 
very existence of the empire. ' Her political condition is controlled 
by her geographical situation, and her interests cannot be allowed to 
outweigh the interests of the larger country.' In view of Mr.Pamell's 
revelation of the secret aspirations of Nationalists, Mr. Chamberlain 
argued that the restrictions in the bill would prevent the proposed 
settlement from being final. ' You are sowing the seeds of future 
discontent. You are sowing the seeds of further demands. The time 
at which the discontent will manifest itself — ^the time when those 
demands will be made, will be the time of England's emergency.' This 
point he emphasized on the second reading. ' We are asked to stake 
the dignity, the influence, the honour and the wealth of the nation upon 
this cast. We are asked to do it because we are told we ought to have 
faith and trust in honourable members opposite (the Nationalists) ; 
we are to do it on the assurance that my right honourable friend gives 
us that a miracle will be wrought in our favour to change the hearts 



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LAST DUEL WITH GLADSTONE 173 

of men, and alter the springs of human action. Sir, I say the possible 
danger is too great, and the possible gain is too small.' 

In denouncing the bill as a concession to disorder, Mr. Chamberlain 
made effective use of indiscreet utterances by NationaUst members in 
Ireland and America. He had a. wonderful supply of extracts, and 
when challenged by the orators as to his version of their views, he 
would promptly take a corroborative clipping from his pocket. Mr. 
Asquith scornfully described him as ' scavenging in the dust-heap of 
the speeches of Irish members, and gleefully piecing together angry 
phrases dropped on Irish platforms in moments of exasperation and 
despair.' ' Dust-heaps ! ' ironically exclaimed Mr. Chamberlain, as if 
the phrase were well appUed. 

His own speeches were freely quoted by the other side, and so 
complete was the contrast between his new tone and his old, that Mr. 
Birrell read his early utterances ' with the kind of melancholy with 
which one reads the letters of somebody who is dead.' Mr. Morley 
jeered at him as the greatest reformed character in the House. ' I 
suppose,' remarked his old friend, ' that many excuses may be made for 
him : it may be said that in his former speeches he was only sowing 
his political wild oats, and that he is a most interesting and repentant 
prodigal. But surely the milk of human kindness nms so richly in 
his veins that it should make him a httle more charitable to his brother 
penitents who, like him, have altered their opinions, and who have 
bidden good-bye to prairie value as he has bidden good-bye to ransom 
and to natural rights.' A charge of inconsistency did not disturb the 
Unionist leader. His defence was always ready. When confronted, 
for instance, with his earlier proposal for an Irish Board of Control, 
he explained that the exposure of the Nationalists and their methods 
by the Parnell Commission had changed his opinion as to the pos- 
sibiUty of entrusting even these limited powers to the present represen- 
tatives of the majority in Ireland. On one occasion, however, he 
turned on those who served up extracts in his own fashion. Loosely 
quoting Romola, he cried disdainfully to Sir William Harcourt : ' Don't 
you be bringing up my words after swallowing them, and pretend 
that they are none the worse for the operation.'^ 

A kindly sentiment, evoked by the maiden speech of Mr. Chamber- 
lain's son, Austen, softened the hearts of some of the combatants for 
a brief hour. Austen had been returned for East Worcestershire, and 
was introduced by his father and his imcle, Mr. Richard Chamberlain. 
The three were of similar size and figure, and when the yoirngman 
spoke in the Hpme Rule debate, his resemblance to the Unionist leader 

* Niccolo : ' Don't you be bringing up my speeches again after you've swal- 
lowed them, and handing them about as ii they were none the worse.' 



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174 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

was wonderful. Even the gestures were alike, and there was the 
same manner of handling an eye-glass. Only the orchid was lacking. 
Mr. Austen Chamberlain, spealdng with clearness and self-possession, 
alluded to Mr. Gladstone in a tone of irony, but the Grand Old Man who 
turned to watch him and listened with interest, gave a friendly cheer 
when he sat down. Afterwards Mr. Asquith went from the Treasury 
bench to whisper a word of congratulation to the father (who had 
praised his own maiden speech six years earlier) and a large number 
of colleagues congratulated the debutant. The most touching incident 
occurred at a later stage of the debate, when Mr. Gladstone, in his 
finest manner, alluded to ' a speech that must have been dear and 
refreshing to a father's heart.' Mr. Chamberlain's pale face quivered 
as he heard the generous words. 

The political quarrel was continued, however, with increasing 
acrimony. ' My right honourable friend and I nowadays seem very 
sharply divided,' said Mr. Gladstone on one occasion, with a pathetic 
ring of the voice. Early in the Conmiittee stage the friend who had 
become his most determined opponent provoked a scene by declaring 
that the Irish members had been squared. ' How much would it 
take to square you ? ' asked a Radical. The retort followed like a 
flash : ' It would take a great deal more than the honourable member 
would ever be able to pay.' On another occasion, complaining that 
the majority had not put down a single amendment to the bill, Mr. 
Chamberlain sneeringly said : ' They have come here prepared to swallow 
anything the Government puts before them as a sort of jubilee testi- 
monial to the Prime Minister.' Mr. Gladstone, in retort, with finger 
pointed back at him, accused him of infinite reiteration, and declared : 
' We do not mean to play his game.' Again, when Mr. Chamberlain, 
according to his habit, quoted former statements by Irish members, 
Mr. Gladstone invited him to begin the work of retraction. ' If we 
are to stand in a white sheet my right honourable friend will wear the 
ornamental garment of the largest size.' Frequently, indeed, he was 
answered with reminders of his own past. ' In inconsistencies, in 
contradictions, in waverings, in violent speeches, made in both ex- 
tremes, no man in the House,' said Mr. Gladstone, ' can for a moment 
compete with the member for Birmingham, and it would be an inter- 
minable task to bring into juxtaposition his innumerable contrarieties 
against himself.' 

Dramatic debates followed each other with exciting rapidity, and 
usually it was Mr. Chamberlain who struck the note of passion. Stand- 
ing near Liberals whose present dishke was as great as their former 
affection, he Unked their great leader with the NationaUsts in stem 
denunciation. For instance, when Mr. Gladstone introduced the 



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LAST DUEL WITH GLADSTONE 175 

' guillotine/ an arbitrary closing of discussion at prescribed periods, 
Mr. Chamberlain jeered at him as a good man struggling with adver- 
sity. ' There,' he said, pointing to the Irish benches, ' sit the men 
who pull the strings of the Prime Minister of England. Under the 
threats of his Irish masters, under pressure from his least-experienced 
supporters (indicating the Radicals), he comes down here to move a 
resolution which is in contradiction to all the principles which he has 
declared in the whole course of his Parliamentary Ufe.' Later the same 
day, replying to Sir William Harcourt, he complained of an attempt 
to erect the name and the age of the Prime Minister into a fetish 
' Judas I ' cried a Nationalist, as if the exclamation were a sufficient 
reply. 

' As watchful as a stag,' Mr. Chamberlain missed no opportimity 
of prejudicing the cause of the Home Rulers. His merciless methods 
were seen in an encounter between himself and Mr. John Dillon. He 
had quoted a speech in which the member for Mayo boasted that when 
the Irish had a ParUament in Dublin they would have the police and 
the constitution under their control and would ' remember those who 
had been the enemies of the people.' This was seized upon as evidence 
that the Irish Unionists would be in danger. On hearing the extract 
quoted, Mr. Dillon desired an opportunity to refresh his recollection of 
the speech. Subsequently, on being again challenged to disown it, he 
stated that it was delivered a short time after ' the massacre of Mitchels- 
town.' This was an affair in which the police fired on a crowd, and 
one man was shot dead and two others were mortally wounded. It 
caused a painful impression in England, and Mr. Gladstone's * Remem- 
ber Mitchelstown ' became a political watchword. Mr. Dillon now 
gave a pathetic account of the incident, and said the recollection of it 
was hot in his mind when he used the language to which objection was 
taken. His plea of provocation, uttered with emotion, moved many 
members. Mr. Chamberlain, however, listened with an ominous gleam 
in his eyes. A friend whispered to him on hearing the reference to 
Mitchelstown, and went out to verify dates. He allowed the eloquent 
Irishman to proceed with his moving tale, but when it was finished he- 
sprang to his feet, his face now aglow with excitement. He noted the 
plea that at the time of the threatening speech Mr. Dillon was thrilling 
with the horrors of the massacre. Here the Liberals cheered. ' Do 
you know,' he retorted, ' that the massacre of Mitchelstown took place 
on September 9, 1887, and that the honourable member's speech was 
delivered nine months previously, on December 5, 1886 ? ' A roar of 
cheering then came from the Unionists, who exulted without restraint 
over the discomfiture of the Nationalist. ' He has been unmasked 
before/ said Mr. Balfour, ' but never so skilfully, never so completely 
as to-night.' For the error thus exposed Mr.Dillon apologized next day. 



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1/6 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Inconsistency was charged against the leader of the Liberal Union- 
ists in reference to the retention of Irish members. If a Parliament 
were set up in Ireland, should there still be representatives of that 
country at Westminster ? Mr. Chamberlain's attitude on this point 
altered more than once, but he contended that the changes were conse- 
quent on the var)dng conditions of the problem. At Sheffield, in 1874, 
one of the recommendations of Home Rule to his mind was that ' the 
legislature would move at an accelerated pace without the Irish mem- 
bers.' In the 1886 bill Mr. Gladstone proposed their total exclusion, 
but Mr. Chamberlain contended that their inclusion was absolutely 
necessary. The * key to the position,' as he then said, was to maintain 
the representation of Ireland in the imperial Parliament. If this con- 
cession were made, he hoped that the inmiinent danger of a fatal breach 
in the ranks of the Liberal party might be averted. Now, in the 1893 
bill, it was proposed that Irish members should be retained at West- 
minster for imperial affairs, but not for affairs exclusively British. 
Mr. Chamberlain had said in 1886 that he did not believe there would be 
really the least difficulty in allowing the Irish members to come to 
Westminster and there to vote only on questions which were not re- 
ferred to them at Dublin.^ Now the ' in-and-out ' arrangement excited 
his ridicule. The Irish delegates, as he remarked, would be neither 
fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring. They would be kept dangling 
about the lobby — here to-day and gone to-morrow, never knowing when 
they might be called in to play their part. It was urged by the Opposi- 
tion, with irresistible force as The Times recorded, that the presence 
in the imperial ParUament of a body of eighty Irish representatives, 
not entitled to vote on questions affecting Great Britain only, would 
make the existence of a stable majority impossible, would turn the 
House of Commons into an assembly changing its character and com- 
position from day to day and from hour to hour, would destroy the 
continuity of our Parliamentary history, and deprive the sj^tem of 
Cabinet Government of its very foundation. 

Yielding to criticism, the Ministers, who did not feel complete faith 
in their own plan, consented to retain Irish members for all purposes. 
This was the concession which Mr. Chamberlain demanded in 1886. 
Now he rejected it. He discovered that if the Irish representatives 
were retained the interests of Great Britain would be controlled by 
delegates, * nominated by priests, elected by illiterates, and subsidised 
by the enemies of this country.' Home Rulers were furious at his 
change of front and Sir WiUiam Harcourt accused him of personal 
hostility to the Prime Minister. ' Whatever the proposals of Mr. Glad- 
stone may be, they secure the bitter — I might almost say the venomous 
— opposition of the right honourable gentleman.' The argument of the 
* Life of Henry Labouchere, Algar Thorold. 



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LAST DUEL WITH GLADSTONE 177 

Unionists was that in demanding the retention of the Irish members 
in 1886 they contemplated a subordinate legislatm'e in Dublin, whereas 
the Parliament now proposed would be practically independent, but 
Sir William Harcourt retorted by pointing out that in 1886 Mr. Cham- 
berlain held that the authority of the imperial Parliament could be 
maintained only by keeping the Irish at Westminster. Thus the 
controversy went on in a circle. 

The Devil's Advocate was a character in which Mr. Gladstone 
presented his chief antagonist. The finance provisions being under 
consideration, Mr. Chamberlain delivered a long speech, in which he 
subjected them to a searching examination, and made many piquant . 
personal allusions to the Ministers. Mr. Gladstone, blazing with anger, 
said he had examined the subject in the spirit of exaggeration and 
hostility of the Devil's Advocate. ' My right honourable friend,' 
continued the Prime Minister, as he turned and faced Mr. Chamberlain, 
' has a practice which is one of the most unsatisfactory and one of the 
most mischievous that can be introduced into public life. He con- 
stantly and deliberately, and with the utmost confidence and infalli- 
bility, ascribes to men who have a right to stand on a level with him, 
and who were at one time his colleagues and were supposed to be his 
friends, motives for their acts the direct contrary of that which they 
state themselves, and motives which he knows they indignantly dis- 
claim.' This rebuke, spoken in tones of mingled sorrow and anger, 
evoked passionate cheering. Mr. Chamberlain did not quail under it, 
nor did he take offence at the rdle which was imputed to him. On 
the contrary, he ado|)ted the character. ' I would remind my right 
honourable friend,' he cooly retorted on the following day ' that the 
fimction of the Devil's Advocate is one which has often been most use- 
fully fulfilled. There have been numbers of cases in connection with 
the ecclesiastical organization of which he forms a part, in which it has 
been his privilege to expose many doubtful virtues, and to destroy 
on more than one occasion the angelic theory. Sir, I modestly hope 
I may enjoy a similar privilege.' 

A Punch cartoon depicted the protracted duel between the leading 
foemen, the G. O. M. (as the Grand Old Man was called) fighting on 
horseback with sword and ' Joe ' on foot, with bayonet ; and in accom* 
panying lines we read : — 

There is not a swordsman like Will, 

Has not been since old days of Dizzy ; 
The foe who would baffle his skill. 

Will have to look sharp, and be busy. 
But Joe with his bayonet-prods 

Is a most unmistakable ' snorter ' ; 
He's willing to fight against odds. 

And he neither gives in. nor gives quarter. 

12 



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178 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

At last the passions of the two sides burst forth with uncontrollable 
fury on the night of July 27, when the House of Commons was dis- 
graced by a melic in which members struck each other with their 
fists. This was the forty-sixth and last sitting in Conmiittee : the 
guillotine was to fall finally on debate at ten o'clock. Members were 
excited when, a few minutes before that hour, Mr. Chamberlain rose 
from his comer. His face was unusually pale, and his voice emotional 
as he spoke of the ' discreditable farce ' to which the mother of Parlia- 
ments had been reduced by the action of a man whom they were all 
ready to recognize as one of the greatest of Parliamentary figures. 
With taunts he inflamed the passion of parties and with increasing 
vehemence he proceeded : ' I say that this bill has been changed in its 
most vital features, and yet it has always been foimd perfect by mem- 
bers behind the Treasury Bench. The Prime Minister calls " black," 
and they say "it is good; "the Prime Minister calls " white," and they say 
•' it is better." ' ' It is always,' he declared, as the dock pointed to ten, 
* the voice of a god. Never since the time of Herod has there been 
such slavish adulation.' 

By the time the last words were uttered the uproar was furious, 
and amid the clamour Mr. T. P. O'Connor's voice was heard exclaiming 
' Judas ! Judas I Judas ! ' A division being challenged under the 
guillotine many members proceeded to the lobby. Others remained 
to shout, and several pointing at Mr. O'Connor, cried ' name ' and 
' shame.' Mr. Chamberlain desired that no notice should be taken of 
the offensive expression to which he had become used, but his friends 
insisted even amid the turmoil on calling attention to it, and demanded 
that the word should be taken down. A private member added a 
farcical element to the scene by occupying the Speaker's chair. Be- 
neath him at the table was the Chairman of Committee, nervous and 
hesitating. Mr. Logan, a Radical, crossed the floor to make a remark 
to a Conservative, and being told to move on he defiantly sat down on 
the front Opposition bench beside its regular occupants. Thereupon, 
two or three members on the second bench — ^Mr. Hayes Fisher, first 
of all — ^placed their hands at his neck and shoulders and pushed him 
off. 

This was the signal for the milie. Immediately a number of 
Nationalists rushed across the gangway among their opponents. Fists 
were used, and there was much pushing and jostling. Colonel Saunder- 
son, a popular but aggressive Irish Unionist, was hit twice on the side 
of the head, and Home Rulers asserted that he in turn struck several of 
them. Mr. Gladstone, watching the scene from his place on the Treas- 
ury bench, looked a picture of sorrow and humiliation. A Conserva- 
tive harangued him from the other side of the table, and others cruelly 
cried, ' this is your work.' The scuf9e continued for five minutes, and 



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LAST DUEL WITH GLADSTONE 179 

members who had gone to the division lobbies retmned to see what was 
occurring. A loud continuous hiss from the strangers, a ' sound of 
public scorn ' never heard before within the memory of the oldest 
Parliamentarian, made the House conscious of its disgrace, and when 
Mr. Speaker Peel, who had been sent for, entered and mounted the 
high chair, looking majestic and terrible, all members sat down ; and 
with his calm, stem, dignified ' Order ! order ! ' peace was instantly 
restored. Charges, reproaches, recriminations followed ; apology was 
offered at once by Mr. O'Connor, and next day regret was e^ressed by 
Mr. Fisher and Mr. Logan ; and the House was enjoined by the Speaker 
to allow the regrettable incident to pass into oblivion. It could not, 
however, drop out of the memory of any who witnessed it. Macau- 
lay's comment on another Parliamentary episode might be applied to 
the incident : ' It was like seeing Caesar stabbed in the Senate House, 
or seeing Oliver taking the mace from the table ; a sight only to be 
seen once, and never to be forgotten.' 

' The aigument of tyrants,' was again detected by the Unionist 
champion at the next stage of the bill. On August 21, Mr. Gladstone 
having proposed to closure the discussion on report, Mr. Chamberlain 
delivered an animated protest against his ' dictatorship,' and concluded 
with a furious attack : ' To destroy the Empire ; to punish England 
for not having given him a majority ; to break up the party to which 
his fame and reputation owe a great deal : these are not enough for the 
First Lord of the Treasury ; he must also stifle discussion : he must 
humiliate the House of Commons which has always honoured him as 
one of its ornaments.' In Iknguage such as this. Sir William Harcourt 
found violent injustice, exaggerated virulence, and personal rancour 
towards the Lilxural leader. At the final stage, on September i, Mr. 
Chamberlain uttered a personal appeal. He seemed very earnest as 
he stood at the end of his bench, with a white orchid in his black coat, 
holding in his hand a sheet or two of notes. In measured tones he 
expostulated with the Liberals on their treatment of himself and other 
Unionists. They had asserted that he was influenced by personal 
feeling. He appealed to them to put themselves in his place. ' If 
you believed, as we believe, that the policy of the Government is 
irreparably fatal, would you think that any opposition could be too 
strenuous, too prolonged ? ' Thus he spoke for several minutes. His 
former friends, watching him closely, listened with attention — ^perhaps 
even with respect. 

On the biU eighty-two sittings were spent by the Commons ; and 
they passed its third reading by a majority of 34. A week later, by a 
majority of 378, it was thrown out in the House of Lords. Some 
critics said that the protracted opposition and detailed speeches of 
Unionist members in the House of Commons were both ineffective and 



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i8o JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

superfluous, seeing that the measure went through their own Chamber 
in spite of them and that it would in any case have been rejected by the 
peers. Mr. Chamberlain and his friends, however, declared that they 
looked beyond their own walls. Their object was by their exposure of 
the biU to justify its expected rejection by the Second Chamber, and to 
educate the country. In that exposure, the most effective part had 
been undoubtedly played by the statesman who formerly advocated 
Home Rule. He did more than any one else to thwart the last ambi< 
tion of his first leader. 

Mr. Gladstone Ungered on the Parliamentary scene till the beginning 
of the following March, when, baffled by foes, embarrassed by impaired 
sight and hearing, and out of ssmipathy with his Cabinet on the ques- 
tion of naval estimates, he handed the controversy with the House of 
Lords down to his successors. His long day's task was done, and when 
he took off his armour his opponents tried to forget his political pro- 
jects, and to think only of his personal merit and genius. A few days 
after his resignation, Mr. Chamberlain, speaking at Birmingham, 
described him as the greatest Parliamentary leader of our time. ' Al- 
though to my deep regret during the last few years I have felt it to be 
my duty to oppose to the utmost Mr. Gladstone's policy, I have never 
either in private or in public said one single word derogatory to his 
transcendant abilities and to his personal worth. Now that he has 
ceased to occupy his great position, I can only sincerely deplore the loss 
which the House of Commons has suffered by the withdrawal of its 
most illustrious member.' In Parliament he spoke in a similar strain. 
* All I would wish to say is that at a time when, unfortunately, voices 
are sometimes raised in order to envenom political differences, and to 
transform them into personal animosities, we, who were his loyal 
followers, but who for some seven years have found ourselves, much to 
our own regret, compelled to come into sharp conflict with him, would 
now desire to forget the incidents of that contest and only.remember 
the great services he has rendered to this House and the country.' 

In the autunm of 1894, the Unionist leader was gratified by an 
allusion made to him by Mr. Gladstone in a letter to the Bishop of 
Chester on the Gothenburg system. ' I am glad to see,' wrote the 
retired statesman, ' that Mr. Chamberlain is active in your cause.' 
Moved by this passing remark, Mr. Chamberlain in an interview with a 
newspaper* correspondent dictated the following reference to Mr. 
Gladstone and himself : * In the outside world some would have it that 
they were anything but friends since the political party tie that held 
them so long in common had been severed. He was glad to say, how- 
ever, that this was very far from the truth. Amid all the tumult of 
political strife their personal relationship had continued undiminished 
^ Birmingham Daily Mail. 



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LAST DUEL WITH GLADSTONE i8i 

and unbroken. He had received many cherished proofs from Mr. Glad- 
stone of his continued esteem. It was but very lately that he had 
visited him, and he had found the magnanimity and charm of his 
character and grand personality enhanced, if possible, in his retire- 
ment.' 



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XXIV 
OLD RADICAL AND NEW CONSERVATIVE 

'Circumstances have chanj^ed, and not I.' — ^Mr. Chamberlain. 

' A gentleman who, only eight years ago« was a spick and span Radical of 
the very newest type — a gentleman with his pocket full of unauthorised pro- 
grammes — an apostle of the Ransom school, endeavours to cover his desertion of 
his party by pretending that the party has altered its creed/ — Sir Wiluam 
Harcourt. 

WAS Mr. Chamberlain alone true to the Liberal faith or was his 
career, as Mr. Healy alleged, cankered with inconsistency? 
Was he a deserter from his party, or did his party desert its princi- 
ples ? During the years of Liberal government, 1892-95, he rarely 
agreed with the authorized application of Liberal doctrine. His 
view was scarcely ever the view of Mr. Gladstone or Lord Rosebery, 
of Sir William Harcourt or Mr. John Morley. Acting with the Con- 
servatives in resistance to Home Rule, and looking forward to coalition 
with them in office, he exercised his ingenuity in constructing a conmion 
platform on which he could stand beside Lord Salisbury and Mr. 
Balfour. A negative policy did not satisfy a leader who professed 
still to be a Radical. Material reform became his cry. 

An imperial note was at the same time struck by Mr. Chamberlain 
with increasing confidence. Instead of dreading responsibilities 
he advocated expansion. He was one of the leaders of the forward 
school in clutching Uganda, ' the black pearl of Africa.' Combating 
the views of a section of Liberals he said in 1893 : ' We cannot imperil 
our position by refusing to face any responsibilities which come to us in 
our character as a great nation/ He boasted of the spirit of travel 
and adventure and enterprise which distinguished the Anglo-Saxon 
race. ' I and those who agree with me,' he frankly declared, ' believe 
in the expansion of the empire, and we are not ashamed to confess 
that we have that feeling ; we are not at all troubled by the accusa* 
tions of Jingoism.' As the guest of a Conservative Club in Birming- 
ham, in January, 1894, he proclaimed his new faith. In almost the 
words of his first political opponent, Mr. Roebuck, he contemplated 
the creation of a national party above all sectional aims to preserve 
the welfare and even the safety of the United Kingdom. It should 
be ' sensible of the responsibilities of empire, mindful of the traditions 

182 



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OLD RADICAL AND NEW CONSERVATIVE 183 

of a great governing race, and determined to hand down to future 
generations the great inheritance of a world-wide dominion.' The 
national party recommended in vain to Lord Hartington in 1887 was 
for years one of Mr. Chamberlain's dreams. Perhaps it was realized 
in the coalition of Liberal Unionists and Conservatives ! But who can 
say that the joint party was above sectional aims ? 

Mr. Chamberlain's view of Liberal measures promoted in the 1892- 
95 Parliament was expressed in terms which showed how sweeping 
had grown his quarrel with his former friends. ' The new Radicals 
are never satisfied with making any one happy unless at the same 
time they can make somebody else unhappy. Their love for Home 
Rule is only surpassed by their hatred of the Protestant and British 
minority in Ulster. Their interest in temperance is conditional upon 
their being able to ruin the publicans. Their advocacy of com- 
pensation to workmen is tempered by their desire to do some injury 
to the employer. Even their love, their affection for the Parish 
Councils Bill is conditional upon their hostility to the Church.' In 
this travesty of their aims the Liberals saw proof of pique. Their 
answer to their censor was given in the biting words of Sir William 
Harcourt : ' Don't let him pretend that the creed of the Radical party 
has changed, as an apology for his desertion of the cause of which he 
once proclaimed himself the self-elected leaden' 

At the end of 1893 only one of the long list of measures promised 
by Mr. Gladstone's Government had become law : it was a bill relating 
to the hours of railway servants. As Mr. Chamberlain said, the 
Ministers had been engaged in the toil : 

Of dropping buckets into empty wells 
And growing old in drawing nothing up. 

This process, although unproductive, was very arduous. The 
autunm recess was abnormally brief and there was an adjournment 
of only a few days at Christmas. Beaten by the Lords on Home Rule 
the Government turned to the Employers' Liability Bill and the Parish 
Councils Bill. The former, in the opinion of Mr. Chamberlain, 
was intended to make the workmen more careful by punishing his 
employer, and he encouraged the Peers to insist on a contracting-out 
clause which led to its abandonment. Even on the Parish Councils 
Bill he did not refrain from criticism. He accused the Liberals of 
putting the Coimdls into leading strings. ' I know now,' he said, 
' why it is that some of my honourable friends are unwilling any 
longer to extend to me the title of Radical : it appears that modem 
Radicalism consists of an endeavour to compel somebody or other to 
do something they don't want to do.' His acrimony drew another 
strong personal protest from Sir William Harcourt, and relations 



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i84 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

between parties were strained as they had not been, even in 1886. 
At last the long-drawn-out session, which with brief intervals had 
continued from the beginning of 1893, closed on March 5, 1894, 
two days after Mr. Gladstone's resignation, and the new session 
began a week later with Lord Rosebery in the place in the Govern- 
ment which — if there had been no Home Rule disruption — ^Mr. 
Chamberlain might have occupied. 

The new Prime Ministership did not modify his opposition. From 
his comer seat below the gangway on the Libersd side, amid the 
cheers of the Conservatives, he continued to flout the Ministers and 
all their works ; and now that Mr. Gladstone was gone, he became 
even more contemptuous than before. Obstacles were placed by him 
in the way of reforms with which his own name had been conspicu- 
ously associated. A bill was again introduced to reduce the period 
of qualification for voting, to remove the disqualification of non- 
payment of rates, and to check plural voting. What measure could 
be more congenial to the author of the unauthorized programme? 
Now, however, his ideas and aims were different. He had spoken 
in favour of manhood suffrage, and in 1885, while advocating the 
principle of one man one vote, he had said, ' If we are to make a dis- 
tinction, I am not quite certain whether it is not the poor man who 
ought to have more votes than the rich one.' Now he complained of 
the proposed abolition of the ratepaying condition, and asked : ' Is 
manhood without any condition of any kind to be the one qualifica- 
tion ? ' ' Yes,' said a plain north-coimtry Radical. ' Is my honour- 
able friend,' retorted Mr. Chamberlain amid the cheers of his 
allies, ' in favour of placing the pauper on the register ? ' He com- 
plained, moreover, that plural voting had been brought neck and 
crop into a bill with which it had no legitimate connexion. In 1885, 
as Mr. Morley reminded the House, he had treated the abolition of 
plural voting as urgent, but in 1894 he held it was perfectly ridiculous 
and imfair of the Liberals to attempt to deal with an acknowledged 
anomaly of this kind, when it suited their purpose, and to refuse to 
deal with a still greater anomaly (the inequitable distribution of seats) 
because it did not suit their purpose. This was the Conservative 
attitude and Mr. Chamberlain strictly conformed to it when still 
another attempt was made to legislate on the subject. A speech in 
which he had attacked the plural representation of property having 
been quoted, he pleaded that it was * delivered a very considerable 
time ago,* and he warned members that they would make a very 
serious constitutional change if they took plural votes from men 
who had substantial local interests and qualifications in more than 
one constituency. 

Sir William Harcourt's budget greatly increasing the death duties 



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OLD RADICAL AND NEW CONSERVATIVE 185 

on a graduated scale applied another test to his consistency. In 
this matter it stood the test. The old Radical stiU held that the 
principle of graduation was right, and although he contended that the 
principle was not properly carried out in the Government scheme he 
left obstruction to the back benches. On the other hand he resisted 
the unfortunate Local Veto BiU, and took pleasure in opposing Sir 
George Trevelyan's project for a Grand Committee to deal with 
Scottish measures. To no man in the House did he show greater 
animosity than to Macaulay's nephew and biographer. They had 
been closely associated in the early stages of the Home Rule move- 
ment, and had together withdrawn from Mr. Gladstone's Government 
in 1886, but when Sir George repented and retiuned to the Liberal 
fold, he was ridiculed by his former friend as the most perfect specimen 
of the political weathercock. Mr. Chamberlain poured abuse on 
his scheme of a Scottish Committee. ' We are told it is not Home 
Rule. No, it is not a proposal for Home Rule ; but it leads directly 
to Home Rule : it is a preparation for Home Rule.' For that reason 
it was dehounced by one who was ' a Home Ruler long before Mr. 
.Gladstone.' 

Lively controversies took place between the Liberal Unionist 
leader and the Nationalists in 1894 on the Evicted Tenants Bill. 
Although Mr. Healy contended that as compared with the Arrears 
Act of 1882, which followed the No Rent manifesto, and for which 
Mr. Chamberlain was partly responsible, this measure for the rein- 
statement of evicted tenants sank into absolute insignificance, he 
opposed it on the ground that it would encourage resistance to the 
law. When he called attention to the fact that Mr. William O'Brien 
had ominously threatened them with public opinion in Ireland, he 
was reminded of the public opinion that was brought to bear upon 
Radical tradesmen in England by Primrose dames, and upon certain 
Wesleyans by Churchmen at Hatfield. Mr. Chamberlain's retort 
was of the scathing sort which incited party passion. ' When did 
Primrose dames, or when did any one at Hatfield, mutilate cattle ? 
When did the Primrose dames fire into houses ? When did they bring 
the tenants of a cottage out, and set them up against the walls of their 
own cottage, and shoot them to their death under the cowardly in- 
stigation of their advisers ? ' The Evicted Tenants Bill shared the 
fate of other Liberal measures ; it was thrown out by the House of 
Lords. 

The session of 1894 was Sir William Harcourt's session. Except 
for the Scottish Local Government Bill, the only important legislation 
was the bill embodying the new death duties. These gave their 
author a new reputation and proved him to be firm in Radical princi- 
ples and bold in statesmanship. Even his opponents began to credit 



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i86 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

him with conviction. Mr. Chamberlain said that Sir William, like a 
statesman of a previous age, was — 

Prompt to supply whate'er his country lacks ; 
Skilful to gag, and knowing how to tax. 

The author of the unauthorized programme must have envied 
his achievement. 



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XXV 

PUBLICAN, PARSON AND PEER 

' A MONG our members you will find,' Mr. Chamberlain said, 
Jl\ ' the most versatile actors of the day.' He himself displayed 
genius in versatility. His changes of attitude and tone were so rapid 
and thorough during the existence of the Liberal Government that 
even those who knew him best were bewildered. When he dealt with 
the drink question, with disestablishment and with the House of 
Lords his former friends were specially amazed for they saw in their 
old monitor's new declarations on these subjects a sad falling away 
from his former faith. If he did not abandon his principles he limited 
their application. Either the circumstances had changed or the method 
of the Government was wrong, or the time was inopportune for doing 
what he himself had advocated. He examined everj^hing in its 
relation to Home Rule and the promoters of Home Rule. To prevent 
that project from being carried, and to replace its advocates by other 
men, were his supreme objects. 

When the Local Veto Bill was introduced in 1893, Mr. Chamberlain's 
early admirers hoped that he would support it. His record on the 
subject was recalled. Mr. Samuel Smith, referring to temperance 
controversies in the early seventies, wrote in his autobiography : ' I 
remember at one of these meetings a then very youthful-looking man 
who took a strong line for Local Option. He was reputed to have 
convinced the Town Coimdl of Birmingham, and to be the rising 
Hector of the Temperance and Radical party. This was Mr. Joseph 
Chamberlain.' At a public conference in Birmingham, in September, 
1871, he said he was not in favour of absolute prohibition, but he could 
go a long way with the United ICingdom Alliance, and as far as he 
understood its aim, would throw in his lot with it. He became a 
member of the Alliance and a subscriber to its funds. The Gothenburg 
S5^em was subsequently espoused by Mr. Chamberlain with character- 
istic enthusiasm. He advocated the plan before the Liberal 'Six 
Hundred ' at Birmingham in November, 1876 ; he carried a resolution 
in favour of it at a Town Council meeting early in 1877 ; and in his 
first important speech in the House of Commons at the same period 
he moved a resolution empowering municipalities to acquire, on 

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i88 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

payment of fair compensation, the existing interests in the retail sale 
of intoxicating drinks, and to carry on the trade in such a way that 
no profit should accrue to any private individual. Moral suasion 
and extended education were as much recommended then as they are 
now by temperance reformers who are opposed to temperance legis- 
lation, but in those days, as noted in an earlier chapter, Mr. Cham- 
berlain pointed out that moral suasion had been practised for more 
than thirty years, and had never reduced the returns nor diminished 
the gains of a single person engaged in the trade, and he expressed the 
fear that the evidence would not warrant them in believing that any 
better results would follow the progress of education than had followed 
the exercise of moral suasion. 

Local control had a place in the imauthorized Liberal progranune. 
Lord Salisbury's objections to such a scheme were ridiculed by the 
Radical. The Conservative leader, in 1885, was willing to have local 
option with reference to Sunday closing, but for the non-thirsty souls 
to say that the thirsty souls should have nothing at all to drink during 
the week seemed to him to trench upon the elementary liberties of 
mankind. At that time Mr. Chamberlain did not think so. He 
described Lord Salisbury as shivering on the brink and afraid to take 
the plunge, proposing local option for Simday and compulsory drinking 
for the rest of the week. His own view he expressed (on October 14, 
1885) in an emphatic sentence. ' We trust the people, and we trust 
them wholly, and we are willing that the whole of this great question 
should be left absolutely to the representative authorities which will 
be elected throughout the country.' An equitable claim to compen- 
sation on the part of the publicans was recognized by Mr. Chamberlain 
throughout his parliamentary career. He admitted it in the discussion 
on the licensing clauses of the County Councils Bill of 1888, but in 
recommending these clauses to Sir Wilfrid Lawson and his temperance 
friends he noted that the principle of local option would thereby be 
accepted, and practically applied. ' There is no doubt,' he said, ' in 
my mind that under this bill the majority of the inhabitants of any 
licensing district who will elect representatives to the County Councils, 
will have the power to do away with every licence in the district if 
they think fit.' This power he was then prepared to grant. As 
late as 1892 he expressed the belief that every Unionist, or almost 
every Unionist, was perfectly willing to vote for the local veto — ' that 
is to say, the right of any district to decide for itself whether it will 
have public-houses in its midst or not,' provided that if it were decided 
to shut up pubUc-houses the men who had been engaged in carrying 
them on should be properly compensated. This principle he supported 
on several occasions in the division lobby. 

Nevertheless, to the bill which Sir William Harcourt introduced 



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PUBLICAN, PARSON AND PEER 189 

in 1893, giving the option of prohibition,^ Mr. Chamberlain offered 
very strong objection. He did not take his stand merely on compen- 
sation. His opposition went to the principle of the measure. ' I 
made/ he said, ' some inquiries when I was in Canada and the United 
States, and in both those countries where legislation of this kind has 
been attempted on a large scale, the testimony of all impartial persons 
is imiversal that it has only led to the grossest evasion, and also to 
what is very much to be regretted — a large increase in private drinking.' 
Next year at Birmingham, Mr. Chamberlain renewed his objection 
to the bill, which had been returned meanwhile to the pigeon-holes 
of a department in Whitehall. * It is not,' he declared, ' in the true 
sense a bill for local option : it is a bill for restricting local option. The 
community would only have the power of deciding one question — 
whether there should be no public-houses, or all that exist at present ! ' 
On this point Sir William Harcourt met his critic, in the revised 
measure of 1895, by adding to the option of prohibition the option of 
reducing the number of public-houses.* Mr. Chamberlain's opposition 
thereupon took a wider sweep. He denoimced the project as class 
legislation in its worst form. ' If you want to stop drinking — ^if you 
think it impossible, which I do not, to stop drunkenness without 
stopping drinking — then be consistent : take the rich as well as the 
poor. If you want to stop drinking, have the courage of your opinions 
and make drinking a penal offence ; or if you won't do that, at all 
events make laws against the sale and against the manufacture of 
liquor under all circumstances. But that is not what the bill proposes 
to do. What it proposes is to interfere with public-houses which are 
the convenience and the meeting-place of the working classes, and to 
leave imtouched the private cellars, the clubs, and even the railway 
stations which are frequented by the well-to-do.' The defence of 
public-houses as the convenience of the working classes startled some 
of Mr. Chamberlain's friends, and they sorrowfully recalled his former 
sentiments while he denounced the bill because it took away the 
property of men who were ' for the most part just as respectable as 
any other tradesmen.' There was a vast difference between the tone 
of the speech in 1895 and the spirit of the article in 1876 on ' The 
Right Method with the Publicans.' The horrors of ' the devil's chain ' 
were no longer emphasized, and the reformer felt pleasure instead of 
regret at Sir William Harcourt's inability to proceed with his project. 



* The bill provided, in short, that by a majority of two-thirds of the persons 
voting in a poll, aU licences in an area might be prohibited for three years. 

* A resolution for reduction might be carried by a simple majority of the 
electors, instead of the two-thirds majority required for the veto, and when it 
was adopted the licences were to be reduced by one-fourth of their number. 



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igo JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

II 

Separation of Church and State was the principle to which, above 
all others, Mr. Chamberlain was committed, and, in view of his attitude 
towards the bill for disestablishment in Wales, his record is worthy 
of study. His most eloquent speeches, expressing the deepest earnest- 
ness, were on this subject. He had spoken as one who was proud to 
share the convictions and aspirations of Nonconformists. 

Mine is a family of political Dissenters. — (1874.) 

I am an English Nonconformist, bom and bred in dissent. . . . For political 
as well as for social reasons, and in the interest of religion itself, I am a Libera- 
tionist. — (September 15, 1885.) 

All my public life I have been a Liberationist. — (October 30, 1891.) 

In one of the earliest declarations from his pen which received 
a national circulation,^ Mr. Chamberlain attacked the Established 
Chiu-ch. He accused it of being always opposed to popular reforms, 
and said its interests were bound up with those of wealth and power 
and vested rights. In October, 1874, after Mr. Gladstone had 
' commissioned his son ' to say at Whitby that the page of Liberal 
history devoted to disestablishment would not bear his name, Mr. 
Chamberlain warned him to reconsider a decision which might place 
him at no distant date in opposition to the will of a clear majority 
of the nation. Again, in his first speech to his constituents, he took 
political groimd as a Liberationist. ' The fact is,' he said, * that union 
between Church and State is separation between Church and people. 
. . . One reason why working men do not go to church may be 
sought for in the fact that workmen are compelled to look upon it as 
their opponent in all the political reforms upon which they have set 
their hearts.' In 1877 he went up and down the coimtry preaching 
disestablishment. At a meeting of the Leeds Nonconformist Union, 
he declared that the ecclesiastical establishment was the greatest 
obstacle to political, social and intellectual progress ; and at Bristol, 
addressing a meeting in connexion with the Liberation Society, he 
urged that the Church should be disestablished and disendowed, and 
asked what were the Liberal party waiting for ? At Bradford, also, 
in the same year, he spoke most eloquently for the Society. Among 
his other early declarations were the following — 

The Church still remains a monument of religions inequality, established 
and endowed by law. — (Rochdale, November 7, 1877.) 

The Church by law established is a piece of political carpentry. The nation 
has made it, and the nation can unmake it.— (West Bromwich, November 19, 
1877.) 

OflSce and experience did not soften Mr. Chamberlain's feelings. 
At Denbigh, on October 20, 1884, he made the announcement, which 

* Fortnightly Review, September, 1873. 



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PUBLICAN, PARSON AND PEER 191 

was never forgotten by friend or foe ; 'I have no spite against the 
House of Lords, but as a Dissenter I have an account to settle with 
them, and I promise you I will not forget the reckoning.' At Glasgow, 
on September 15, 1885, he pronounced in impressive language against 
an5^hing in the nature of State interference with, or State aid to, 
religion. He would free the Church from State control, whether in 
England, in Scotland, or in Wales, and he added the expression of 
his belief that the appropriation to the service of a single sect of funds 
which were originally designed for the benefit of the whole nation 
was an injustice. 

An entry in Archbishop Benson's diary,^ with reference to dis- 
establishment, shows the alarm and the anger excited at that period 
by the utterances of the Radical leader. ' Chamberlain,' writes the 
Archbishop, ' without any circumlocution, spoke of it as his desire, 
and as very near, though not perhaps within the next session. Then 
came out The Radical Programme preface by Chamberlain, with a 
truculent, wolfish imagining the whole thing down to details, and 
claiming it.' He intended, according to his own confession, to have 
given disestablishment the first place in the unauthorized programme, 
but strong pressure against this procedure was brought to bear upon 
him, and in the election campaign at the end of 1885 he allowed the 
question to lie over. He intimated then at Leicester that for the sake 
of unity the extreme Liberals had put aside their most cherished 
principles — disestablishment, for instance ; but after the split in the 
party he assured a Welsh correspondent that his views on its justice 
and expediency were exactly the same then as they had always been. 

During the Parliament of 1886-92, even when supporting the 
Conservative Government, he resumed his advocacy of disestablish- 
ment, and presented it as a rival to Home Rule. At Birmingham 
in September, 1887, speaking for the extreme section of the Liberal 
party, he included religious equality among subjects which were much 
riper than the Irish question, and which ' ought not to be put aside.' 
Two years later, in la3dng the memorial-stone of the Methodist New 
Connexion School in Birmingham, he paid an eloquent tribute to 
Dissent and the great part it had played in the history of this country. 
In February, 1891, he voted for a motion in favour of disestablishment 
in Wales, and in the course of that year he addressed several remarkable 
appeals to the Welsh people, warning them that every Dissenter who 
voted for a Gladstonian was voting for the indefinite postponement 
of the cause in which they were so much interested. Just as he 
boasted at Dingwall in 1887 that he was a Home Ruler long before 
Mr. Gladstone, he boasted in South Wales on October 30, 1891, that he 
had voted for disestablishment in the Principality long before Mr. 

* Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, by A. C. Benson. 



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192 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Gladstone discovered that it was a popular cry there, he had voted 
for disestablishment in Scotland before Mr. Gladstone was aware that 
the majority of the Scottish people desired it, and he had voted for 
disestablishment in England although only a minority of the people 
wished to see it accomplished. Careless of whether he was in a minority 
or a majority, he would follow his convictions as long as he lived, but 
' I tell you, my fellow-Nonconformists and fellow-Iiberationists, that 
by the introduction of Home Rule the question of religious equality 
has been indefinitely postponed.' The same electioneering argument 
was put concisely in the letter quoted in a pre\ious chapter in which 
Mr. Chamberlain expressed the conviction that the only chance for 
the speedy satisfaction of the legitimate claims of Welsh Nonconformity 
was to be found in the defeat of Home Rule. 

Probably the Conservative Churchmen became alarmed then as 
the Archbishop was six years earlier by the line their ally was taking. 
He again, however, changed his tone as the General Election of 1892 
drew near. On his appointment as leader of the Liberal Unionists at 
the beginning of that year, he stated, as we have seen, that while 
retaining his freedom to put forward his views on disestablishment 
when he thought right to do so, he was willing to subordinate them to 
the interests of the Union ; and in the month of March, addressing 
the Nonconformist Unionist Association in London, he made the 
following notable annoimcement : ' I do not think that you will find 
anywhere a more ardent or a more consistent supporter of disestab- 
lishment than m3^self. But it is neither defensible in principle nor 
in policy to put this question forward to the exclusion of every other. 
It is not right to do evil in order that good may come. It is not right 
to purchase the disestablishment of the Church at the price of the 
disintegration of the empire.' After complaining for years that this 
cause was kept in the background he complained now that it was put 
in the foreground. 

Thus we have obtained Mr. Chamberlain's record on a subject 
which touched his deepest convictions. At the outset of his career, 
in 1874, he was prepared to dispense with Mr. Gladstone's leadership 
rather than have disestaWishment delayed ; in 1885 he desired to 
give it the first place in his progranune but was withheld by Mr. 
Gladstone ; after the disruption of the Liberal party he contended 
that it was riper for settlement than Home Rule ; in 1891 an argu- 
ment used by him against the Gladstonian policy was that it meant 
the indefinite postponement of Welsh disestablishment ; but on the 
eve of the election of 1892 he objected to an alleged attempt ' to pur- 
chase the disestablishment of the Church at the price of the disinte- 
gration of the empire.' The statement that the Nonconformists 
supported Home Rule in order to get disestablishment was stigmatized 



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PUBLICAN, PARSON AND PEER 195 

by the British Weekly, which spoke with authority on the subject^ 
as the most outrageous of calumnies. ' They were perfectly aware 
that by supporting Home Rule they were postponing disestablish- 
ment, but such was their devotion to Mr. Gladstone primarily, and 
such also, no doubt, their conviction that Home Rule was just, that 
they were content to put aside personal ends and aims.' 

We come now to Mr. Chamberlain's action on this matter in the 
Parliament of 1892-5 during the Administration of Mr. Gladstone 
and Lord Roseb^. It was curiously chequered action, springing^ 
on the one hand- from his life-long convictions as a Dissenter, and 
on the other from his determination to thwart the Liberal Govern- 
ment. Mr. Chamberlain disapproved of their tactics in 1893 in pro- 
moting the Welsh Suspensory Bill, which provided that thereafter^ 
in the case of appointments by the Crown to Uvings in the Principality, 
the emoluments should be held subject to the pleasure of Parliament. 
By this measure, he said, they would hamper the Church without the 
possibility of dealing finally with the subject for at any rate a con- 
siderable period. In his opinion it was merely a sop to the Welsh 
members to keep them quiet while the Home Rule Bill was under 
consideration. The measure was not proceeded with; and next 
year a bill to disestablish the Church in Wales was dropped for want 
of time but it was again introduced in 1895. 

Meantime Mr. Chamberlain used a qualifying phrase. He wrote 
and spoke of his support of ' the principle ' of disestabUshment. In 
March, 1894, at Edinburgh, when insisting that the decision of the 
Scottish people on this question must be taken in circumstances in 
which it could not possibly be denied, he referred to 'those who, 
like myself, are in favour, as a principle, of disestablishment.' Later, 
this became a maUer of abstract principle. Mr. Chamberlain pained 
some of his friends and did injustice to his imdoubted convictions 
when, at Heywood, in November, 1894, he said : ' You may, if you 
like, try to disestablish and disendow the Church in Wales, and if 
you succeed, in my opinion — although I sympathize with the object 
as a matter of abstract principle — nobody will be one penny the 
better for it.' Mr. Morley, much grieved, retorted in sadness that 
'human manhood has something apart from the penny.' On any- 
one who respects Mr. Chamberlain's integrity of mind the Heywood 
phrase jars more than anything else in his career. 

The conflict of motives in his mind was again shown by the letter 
dated January 31, 1895, which he addressed to the editor of the 
Aberystwiih Observer. 'Disestablishment in Wales must come,' he 
wrote, ' and the only question is whether it shall be accompanied by 
the just treatment of the Church in regard to its funds. This can be 
secured now by the Unionist party, and Churchmen would be wise 

13 



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^94 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

if they were to urge their leaders to devote themselves to this part of 
the subject/ Churchmen did not fed constrained to accept the 
.advice. At the opening of the session of 1895, when Mr. Chamberlain 
brought forward a motion demanding a dissolution it was pointed out 
that this would shelve the Welsh Disestablishment Bill. Mr. Asquith 
wanted to know what had happened to the ' cup ' — (the cup of the 
Dissenters' wrath against the peers) — which was nearly full when he 
spoke at Denbigh, in 1884, and Sir William Harcourt taunted him 
with having assured the people of the PrincipaUty that if Home Rule 
were only out of the way they would have disestabUshment at once. 
He angrily denied that he had said anything of the kind. ' What I 
•did say was that since Home Rule was introduced the prospect of 
'disestablishment in Wales had been delayed.' At the second reading 
•of the Disestablishment Bill in April, Mr. Chamberlain, claiming 
the hberty of action which, as he said, had been recognized by the 
leaders of the Conservative Party,* voted in its favour. Only one other 
Liberal Unionist followed the same independent course. The defeat 
of Lord Rosebery's Administration in June put an end to the measure, 
and the Coalition Government was formed with very different aims 
from those of the Liberationists. 

Looking ahead nine years, we find Mr. Chamberlain telegraphing 
in 1904 to the Western Mail : * I have always been in favour of dis- 
•establishment as a theory although not a practical poUcy.' What was 
urgent in 1874, and an abstract principle in 1894, had, like his Repub- 
Ucanismof early years, fallen to a theory. To the theory at any rate 
lie remained steadfast. In the session of 1904, on the Bishoprics of 
Southwark and Birmingham Bill, he frankly said : — 

I am not only a Nonconformist, but am, and always have been, in favour of 
the policy of disestablishment. I think myself that the adoption of that policy 
would really be for the relief of the Church of England, would increase its spiritual 
influence, and save it from the attacks which are now made upon it. 



Ill 

No question betrayed the change in Mr. Chamberlain more com- 
pletely than that raised by the action of the House of Lords. This 
^as the subject on which he had excited the stormiest passions at 
Radical meetings in 1884 and 1885. On account of their hostility to 
the Franchise Bill, Mr. Chamberlain pronounced the tragic doom of 
the Lords, and in his programme he included ' the question of mending 
or ending the second Chamber.' In the ten years which followed the 
Liberal disruption, his point of view was completely altered. He 

^ I have always reserved my own liberty of action with regard to this question, 
and this has been recognized fully by the leaders of the Conservative party — 
iLord Salisbury and Mr. Balfour (June, 1894). 



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PUBLICAN, PARSON AND PEER 195 

predicted in 1892, that the House which he threatened with extinction 
in 1884, would remain for several generations to come a picturesque 
and a stately, if not a suprememly important part of the British 
Constitution. Its action in 1893 and 1894, although exciting the 
indignation of Mr. Gladstone and his friends, commanded the Union- 
ist leader's enthusiastic approval. When he praised the House of 
Lords for throwing out the Home Rule BiU, he was challenged by a 
correspondent with inconsistency, but he replied : * There is no incon- 
sistency in praising either an institution or an individual when it is 
in the right, and condemning it when it is in the wrong. The House 
of Lords has often in the past made serious mistakes and incurred just 
condemnation. It deserves, however, the gratitude of the people of 
Great Britain for standing up for their rights and preventing them 
from being overridden by a disloyal Irish faction.' 

' What are you going to attack the House of Lords for ? ' he 
asked in February, 1894 ; and he contended that in acting as they 
did upon the Home Rule Bill, the hereditary peers were representative 
of the vast majority of the British people. ' This premature cry about 
the House of Lords is a purely artificial one ; it is got up for party 
purposes.' The destruction or mutilation of other Liberal measures 
did not distiu-b the growth of Mr. Chamberlain's mature affection for 
the hereditary chamber. The peers insisted on adding a fatal proviso 
to the Employers' Liability Bill, and although they receded from 
certain restrictions on the Parish Councils Bill, their amendments to 
it were protested against by the Government. Still Mr. Chamberlain 
covered them with his shidd. He believed, as he said, that they re- 
presented the true wishes of the majority. Naturally their subsequent 
action in throwing out the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Bill, failed to 
modify his good opinion. It added, on the contrary, another mark 
in their favour. 

Instead of crying ' Down with the Lords I ' Mr. Chamberlain became 

an advocate of a second chamber. At Leeds, in September, 1894, 

he said his conviction was that a second chamber of some sort was 

absolutely necessary in our Constitution. * I am ready,' he conceded, 

'to view with favour any reasonable proposal which would add an 

elective element to the composition of the House of Lords, which would 

bring them into closer touch with popular sentiment, which would 

give them a representative authority such as that which is given to 

the Senate of the United States.' Thereupon he was caricatured 

looking at himself in a mirror as he tried on a coronet. Still more 

remarkable was the reference he made to the subject at Durham, 

on October 16 : — 

I am no apologist for the constitution of the House of Lords ; I am no de- 
fender of hereditary legislation, but I am a strong upholder of a second chamber, 
and, until you can find me a better I am going to siich to the House of Lords ! 



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196 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

The peers who had trembled at the agitator's frown and who had 
feared he might raise a storm which would shake their House to its 
foimdations slumbered peacefully after this decisive declaration. 
Their most dreaded enemy had become their champion. The feelings 
of Liberals were expressed by a parody of ' Auld Lang Syne/ signed 
' C. G./ in the Wes^insUr Gazeite, in which Mr. Asquith reminded 
Mr. Chamberlain of his former orations : — 

We twa hae stumped the countryside. 

And slang'd the Tories fine. 
But yeVe wander'd mony a weary loot 

Sin auld lang syne. 

We twa hae thunder'd gin the Lords, 

From momin' sun till dine ; 
But Dukes between us now hae come 

Sin auld lang syne. 



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XXVI 

NEW MAN AND NEW IDEALS 

' '^yOBODY will be one penny the better for it,' was no mere passing 
X^ indiscretion of the tongue, although the application of the 
phrase to disestablishment may have been regretted by its author. 
The words indicated a new current of ideas in Mr. Chamberlain's 
brain. No longer was he the preacher of a generous gospel of human- 
ity. Revolt against Gladstonian sentiment, and contact with new 
comrades, had led to his adoption of conmierdal ideals. Changes in 
the Constitution, reform bills, religious equality, the ending or mending 
of the House of Lords, one man one vote — ^what did all these things 
mean ? What would it benefit us if we set up this, or took down that ? 
Let there be no more cant about humanity ; had we not the empire 
as a theme for eloquence ? This was the tendency of thought in many 
minds during the reaction from Gladstonianism, and the astute 
dectioneerer, reading the signs of the times, produced a new policy. 
He who had constructed an imauthorized programme for the Liberals 
in 1885, devised in the next decade a bold programme for the Conser- 
vatives. It was said that there was not another man in English history 
who in the course of ten years had thus drawn the prospectus of each 
of the political parties in the State. Mr. Chamberlain's ingenuity 
was equal to the double performance, and in both cases as he boasted 
a considerable portion of his prospectus was carried out by the company 
which he directed. 

Old age pensions, which had figured seductively in the election 
of 1892, continued to play an important part in the programme which 
was presented as a rival to Liberalism and Home Rule. A Conmiis- 
sion appointed by the Government revealed wide diversities of opinion, 
but Mr. Chamberlain in 1894 spoke with confidence of what a Unionist 
Minister might do in the way of assisting * all men — aye ! and aU 
women ' to make provision against old age. Pensions, he now believed, 
would do more than anything else to secure the happiness and the 
contentment of the poorer people. Moreover, his tempting basket 
included assistance to the working classes in the purchase of their 
houses, compensation for accidents, tribunals of arbitration, and the 
statutory limitation of the hours of labour. ' Those,' he said, ' who 
had followed his career in Parliament would know that he was in favour 

197 



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198 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

of an eight-hours day. He voted for an eight-hours bill for miners, 
and he was prepared to vote for an eight-hours bill for any trade, the 
members of which could show that it was ligitimate and expedient 
to have the principle extended to them.' 

The new social programme irritated a section of the more timid 
or honest Tories and they raised an outcry against its author, but when 
Mr. Chamberlain threatened to resign his leadership if the Unionist 
party adopted a merely negative attitude his wrath was turned away 
with smooth words. Lord Salisbury expressed the greatest S5anpathy 
with his ' general objects,** and the Duke of Devonshire took occasion 
to concur in moderate and reasonable social reform. Thus the poli- 
tician who was neither Whig nor Tory nor new Radical was permitted 
— ^if not warmly encouraged — ^to proceed with his propaganda. In 
November, 1894, he presented the rival progranmies before the country 
in such a form as to show that material benefits were to be obtained 
only from the Unionists : — 

You may, if you like, try to disestablish the Welsh Church, or you may on 
the other hand try to become the owners of your own houses. You may attempt 
to pass an Irish Land Bill, or you may attempt to get old age pensions for your- 
selves. You may try to put down drinking and to prevent any man from having 
a glass of beer, or you may try with me to prevent drunkenness and to restrict 
the vice of drinking. Lastly, you may enter into a campaign against the House 
of Lords which will last for years, and it may be for generations, or you may 
enter on a campaign against want and misery, and you may try to add something 
to the sum of human happiness. 

A trivial incident which made Mr. Chamberlain the butt of much 
laughter occurred early in the session of 1895. Debate had taken 
place on Indian import duties on cotton manufactures and Mr. Cham- 
berlain at the last moment desired to avoid voting. The outer doors 
were locked by the time that he made up his mind to abstain, so that 
he could not proceed in the ordinary manner through the corridors 
to the library or smoking room. Yet he did not pass the tellers in 
the division lobbies which surround the House. Where then did he 
go ? Members, with the view of casting ridicule on so provocative 
an opponent, raised a question of order as to whether being present 
when the question was finally put he ought not to have recorded his 
vote.* A Nationalist suggested that he had played a game of hide- 
and-seek. The Speaker's explanation that there were * means of 
escape ' known to members, produced a volley of laughter at Mr. 
Chamberlain's expense. The incident showed that everything in which 
he was concerned was magnified, and that he was not allowed to take 
the slightest Mberty without being brought to account. There is no 

^ A new system has since then been introduced, by which members may 
remain in the House during a division without voting. 



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NEW MAN AND NEW IDEALS 199. 

more levelling place than the House of G>mmons. It is a place of 
cruelty as well as of chivalry. 

As the threads of the life of Lord Rosebery's unhappy Government 
became more and more slender, and the succession of a new Adminis- 
tration drew perceptibly nearer, attacks on the Liberal Unionists- 
and their leader in the House of Conunons were renewed by a section 
of their allies. Mr. Chamberlain's domestic policy was still distrusted 
by some of his old opponents ; his action in voting for the second 
reading of the Welsh Disestablishment Bill had annoyed many Church- 
men ; and moreover in some Conservative quarters there was a natural 
fear that good posts for which good Tories were admirably fitted might 
pass from the Carlton Club. Mr. Chamberlain had been of great 
service to the State in discrediting Liberalism and defeating Home 
Rule, but now his allies could carry on by themselves in their old 
manner. The Spectator hinted that if these attacks were continued 
the great electioneerer might be compelled to retire from the political 
campaign ; and a letter published sixteen years later showed in his- 
own words how deeply he resented the conduct of the undisciplined 
Tories in firing into the backs of their allies. Writing to the Duke 
of Devonshire on April 19, 1895, he said : ' My rdle in the Home Rule 
controversy has been to keep a number of strong Liberals and Radicals 
staunch to the Union. To do this, I have had to give evidence that I 
remain a Liberal at heart although I am loyally working with the 
Tories. I can sacrifice a great deal in the way of opinions, but I cannot 
sacrifice everything without losing all the influence I now possess. If 
any considerable number of Conservatives believe that they are strong 
enough to stand alone and can do without the Liberal Unionist crutch, 
as poor Randolph phrased it, I am ready to be thrown aside and to 
let them try the experiment. On the other hand, if they still want 
our assistance they must pay the price they have hitherto wiUingly 
paid.'i 

Whatever the Tapers and Tadpoles might think, the Conservative 
chiefs knew they could not dispense with Mr. Chamberlain's aid. 
Mr. Balfour, at a Primrose League meeting a week after his conmiuni- 
cation to the Duke, repudiated the strictures which had caused offence 
and effusively declared that never had a man received more generous • 
support than had been given to himself by the leader of the Liberal 
Unionist party in the House of Conmions. They had, he said, a record 
behind them of nine years of the closest political co-operation and 
the closest personal friendship. A testimonial was received also from 
Lord Salisbury, who wrote that the Conservatives had always recog- 
nized most gratefully ' the disinterestedness and the straightforward 
loyalty with which Mr. Chamberlain has devoted his great authority 
> Lifo of the Duh$ of Dwonshir$, by Bernard HoUand. 



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200 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

and his splendid powers to the defence of the Irish Union/ The sensi- 
tive ally was thus appeased. So far as he was concerned, he said, 
on Hay 22, the incident was dosed by the chivalrous speech of Mr. 
Balfour; and with corresponding magnanimity he testified to the 
friendliness and loyalty of the Conservative leaders. Proof of the 
solidarity of the two sections was given by the presence of the Duke 
of Devonshire and Mr. Chamberlain at the annual meeting of the 
National Union of Conservative ^Associations. The Duke suggested 
the name of Unionist for the combined parties — a name, however, 
which never swallowed up Conservative — and his colleague remarked 
that the party thus described might now contemplate co-operation 
in constructive legislation. 

Meanwhile they challenged the right of a Liberal Govemmeht 
to exist. Repeatedly during 1895 Mr. Chamberlain in his anxiety 
for power demanded an appeal to the coimtry. He taunted the minis- 
ters with trjong to pass bills which the Lords would throw out, and 
with clinging to office although they knew that their policy was not 
approved. 'This is not a proud Government,' he scornfully said, 
and in the words of Prior he compared it to the condemned criminal 
who — 

Now fitted the halter, now traversed the cart. 
And often took leave, but was loth to depart. 

Some of its members were notoriously weary of ' ploughing the sand,' 
There were dissensions in the Cabinet ; the chiefs in the two Houses 
lacked S3mipathy with one another ; and it was whispered that defeat 
would be regarded by both as a happy release. On June 13 Sir William 
Harcourt, who although he missed the Prime Ministership, had won 
the respect of the House of Conunons by his leadership, declared em- 
phatically that it was the intention of the Government to proceed at 
all events with their principal bills until these had passed into law, 
but eight days later they fell ' on a petty detail of their policy.' In 
a small House, when important business was unexpected, they were 
defeated by a majority of seven on an amendment which in effect 
charged them with neglecting to provide an adequate supply of cordite. 
The Ministers might have ignored the hasty censure if the Cabinet 
had been united and the party 103^, but Lord Rosebery abandoned 
a task in which he was not adequately supported. He resigned on 
Saturday, Jime 22. 

Lord Salisbury, being at once summoned, saw the Queen on the 
following Monday, and next day, the 25th, the inner circle of the Coali- 
tion Cabinet was formed. Four of its members, besides Mr. Goschen, 
had formerly been colleagues of Mr. Gladstone, namely, the Duke of 
Devonshire, Mr. Chamberlain, the Marquis of Lansdowne and Sir 
Henry James, now created Lord James of Hereford. Mr. Chamberlain 



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NEW MAN AND NEW IDEALS 201 

received the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies, which he was 
supposed to covet in 1886, and several of his lieutenants obtained minor 
posts. Although he himself declined, as a Radical, nine years prev- 
iously to preside over one of the great spending and fighting depart- 
ments, his son began a prosperous career at the Admiralty with * the 
skeleton at the feast ' ; Mr. Jesse Collings, at the age of sixty-four, 
became an Under-Secretary, and Mr. Powell Williams, another faithful 
friend, was appointed Financial Secretary to the War Office. Even if 
Lord Salisbury had been reluctant to introduce into his Government 
so large a Birmingham tail he could not on the eve of the election have 
resisted the demands of the statesman on whom much depended. 



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XXVII 
LORD SALISBURY'S COLLEAGUE 

WHEN the Unionist Whip moved for the writ for an election in 
West Birmingham, on the occasion of Mr. Chamberlain's 
acceptance of oflftce in the Salisbury Government, the Liberals who 
were haunted by memories laughed mockingly. The coalition of 
the Radical Nonconformist with the Clerical Conservative, the advocate 
of ransom with the champion of those ' who toil not neither do they 
spin,' was as strange as any political combination in our history. In 
1883 Lord SaUsbuiy had expressed surprise that Whigs like Lord 
Granville and Lord Hartington should sit in the same Cabinet with 
Mr. Chamberlain ; and until the arrangement was definitely announced 
some of the former friends of the old Radical refused to believe that 
he would serve with his former foes. The more Liberal of the Unionists 
keenly realized the risk imderlying the coalition. ' A great experi- 
ment ! ' exclaimed one who was subsequently separated from Mr. 
Chamberlain. There were at the same time certain Conservatives 
who feared that his early views might still taint his Unionism, and 
their doubts were played upon by his early associates who recalled 
the warning given to Othello with reference to Desdemona : ' She 
has deceived her father, and may thee.' 

For the first time, in July, 1895, the Liberal Unionists and the 
Conservatives sat on the same side of the House of Commons. While 
the inheritors of Mr. Gladstone's policy crossed to the left of the chair, 
the Conservatives came over to the benches on the right, and their 
allies who had been sitting there among the Liberals for the three 
previous years, remained as part of the new Ministerial force. Thus 
the ph5^cal severance of Liberal Unionists from Gladstonians took 
place at last. The rift of 1886 had gradually widened, and now the 
two sections confronted one another as open, formal, regular opponents. 
Mr. Chamberlain on his re-election was introduced by his son and one 
of the Government Whips to a House in which he was exceedingly 
familiar. He placed himself beside Mr. Balfour on the Treasury bench, 
where formerly he sat as the companion of Gladstone and Bright. 
With mingled scorn and amusement Radicals and Nationalists watched 
their enemy, and when he whispered to Mr. Balfour as the latter was 
making a statement on the course of business, they affected to see in 

ao2 



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LORD SALISBURY'S COLLEAGUE 203 

his interference a proof of pushfuiness. ' He's at it already,' one of 
them cried. They suspected that he was about to ' shape his old 
course in a country new.' 

The bitterness of the Liberal leaders was poured out on Mr. Cham- 
berlain and his colleagues in imstinted measure. Lord Rosebery 
sarcastically congratulated him on having at last attained the object 
of his later ambition in being at the head of a united Tory Government. 
'The cremation of Liberal Unionism,' said Sir William Harcourt, 
' has been at last performed in the Tory crematory. Peace to their 
ashes. There is one imposture the less in the world.' Mr. Morley 
shook his head and sighed at the irrecoverable loss of the old Radical: — 

There is, he wistfully remarked, one change that I shall make in my little 
library. I have two little red volumes. One is called The Radical Programme, 
with a preface by Mr. Chamberlain ; and the other is Mr. Chamberlain* s Speeches, 
I promise you that I shall put these two volumes into the top shelves of my 
library, and I do not think that I shall consult them again. 

With a simple policy of dissolution Lord Salisbury took oflSce, and 
the general election followed at once. Mr. Chamberlain threw himself 
into it with a vigour which even he had not surpassed, and which 
inspired others. He pushed his own programme. ' Do you want,' he 
asked Birmingham, ' to have social legislation, or do you desire, on the 
contrary, once more to continue in a course of revolutionary, de- 
structive reforms in our Constitution and in our great institutions ? ' 
There was now no bolder champion of the Tories. ' Give to the 
Conservatives in common fairness what is undoubtedly their due — ^the 
right to claim that they were the first to take an interest in 
questions affecting the material happiness and domestic lives of the 
people of this country.' Strange testimony from the man who had 
asked when the time would be opportune in the minds of the Tory 
party for a measure of reform, and who had declared that the Tories 
would make no concession to just demands until they were preferred 
in a tone and temper which showed that the people would not be trifled 
with ! What the masses wanted, or what they ought to want, was 
indicated by Lord Salisbury's strange colleague with the utmost 
precision and confidence. 'They want, in my opinion, legislation 
which will increase employment, which will help to sustain and even 
increase wages. They want legislation which will make the homes of 
the working people healthier, which will make the working people 
owners of their own homes. They want legislation which will help 
to smooth the declining years of the poor, and to relieve them from 
what is now almost a nightmare;^ they want legislation to protect 

^ On the subject of old age pensions, Mr. Chamberlain said at Hanley on 
July 12, 1895 : ' My proposal broiadly is so simple that any one can understand 



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204 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

those whom I have called the wounded soldiers of industry, the men 
who, in the ordinary course of duty and employment, suffer from 
accident and injury.' 

The election was won for the Conservatives by their ally. His 
personality and his programme predominated and prevailed. The 
Liberals with a divided poUcy and a divided leadership, suffered a 
disastrous rout. Sir William Harcourt was defeated at Derby, and 
Mr. Morley was driven from Newcastle. The Unionists gained ninety 
seats, and opened the new Parliament with an irresistible majority 
of 152. In the Midlands Mr. Chamberlain waxed greater than ever. 
Before the election thirty-four constituencies in the four counties 
of which Birmingham is the capital, were represented by Unionists, 
and ten by Gladstonian Liberals ; after the election the proportions 
were thirty-eight and six respectively. Many explanations and 
excuses were proffered by the vanquished. They had suffered from 
the loss of their great chief and from the dissensions of his successors ; 
some blamed the Local Veto Bill, others lamented the absence of 
social legislation. According to the victors, the result of the election 
was a decision against Home Rule. 

In a personal aspect, the new Parliament which opened on August 
12, 1895, was specially melancholy. No longer did the roll of members 
include the name of William Ewart Gladstone. Although he resigned 
office in March, 1894, he had retained his seat till the dissolution ; 
Parliamentarians had continued to glory in their matchless colleague, 
and there had always been the possibility that the dauntless veteran 
might return to deliver one more splendid speech. Now no constituency 
could boast of Mr. Gladstone as its representative, and the House of 
Commons knew that never again would his living face flash upon it. 
After his departure the most potent figures were those of Mr. Cham- 
berlain and Sir William Harcourt. In his late years Sir William's 
character mellowed and softened ; and after he imitated Lord Rosebeiy 
and threw down the leadership of a distracted and rebellious party, 
it became the fashion of members to describe him as the greatest 
ornament of their assembly. Mr. Chamberlain, the most powerful 
debater, the most brilliant dectioneerer, the most intrepid and ambit- 
ious schemer, looked forward to a long official life, full of measures of 
reform, which Liberals ought to have undertaken but could not pass, 
and which would add to his own renown. Mr. Balfour, the Tory 
leader of the House, was spared by the Opposition in order that attack 
might be concentrated on his Liberal Unionist colleague and even 
this process increased the notoriety and the importance of the man 

it. I suggest that whenever a man has acquired for himself in a friendly society 
or any other society, a pension of zs. 6d. per week, the State should come in and 
double that pension/ 



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LORD SALISBURY'S COLLEAGUE 205 

of Birmingham. When he said he would die a Radical he did not 
think he would live to sit on the same bench as Conservative ministers, 
but he seemed thoroughly contented in their company. There were 
rumours in the sununer of 1896 that Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Goschen 
and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach were competitors for the deputy-leader- 
ship, but Sir Michael, alluding to these stories at a dinner, said that 
' no three members of the Cabinet were on more friendly terms.' Time, 
and the whirl of events, had thrust far back in the old Radical's memory 
the sharp controversies which he had carried on so vivaciously with 
Whigs and Tories. 

In the Colonial Secretar5^ship he found a congenial post. Several 
of his predecessors treated it as one of the easiest offices in the Admin- 
istration, and at first there was an impression that he had desired it 
because its duties would leave him with time and opportunity for 
developing the social poUcy of the Government and promoting the 
legislation of domestic departments. He had, however, shown a 
steady flight towards imperialism. We have seen that in his revolt 
against the Home Rule of Mr. Gladstone his outlook soared far beyond 
Great Britain, and in succeeding years he scorned the fear which he 
formerly shared with other Radicals of obligations and responsibilities. 
His new views had been expressed with his customary directness 
in St. James's Hall, a few weeks before he took office in a Unionist 
Government. ' We believe,' he said ' in the expansion of the empire : 
in its legitimate development. We are not afraid to take upon our- 
selves the burden and the responsibility which attach to a great govern- 
ing race.' It may be assumed that ambitious schemes, imperial as well 
as social, passed through his busy mind in the recess of 1895 while 
the Cabinet was preparing the work of the new Parliament. * I hope 
we shall have a period of calm and peace,' Mr. Balfour said, but knowing 
his colleague that hope may not have been sanguine. 



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XXVIII 
TRANSVAAL RAID AND INQUIRY 

THE history of Mr. Chamberlain's career at the Colonial Office is 
mainly the history of the last straggle for the Transvaal. 
Other events distinguished the term of his Secretaryship, notably 
a growth in the feeling of kinship between the over-sea dominions 
and the mother country, the expansion of our West African 
territories, and the foundation of the Commonwealth of Australia; 
but the affair with which he was most memorably associated, pro- 
ducing as it did the greatest consequences in our time, was the 
conflict in South Africa. No feature of his public life led to sharper 
diversity of opinion. His share of the transactions which added 
two colonies to the empire raised him for a time to the highest 
pinnacle of notoriety and popularity but for no part of his work did he 
receive in after years less gratitude or more obloquy. 

Just six months after the social reformer took office with the hope 
of dishing the Liberals by domestic legislation a dark shadow fell across 
his path. Christmas in 1895 was spent by the Colonial Secretary at 
Birmingham, but by the midnight train on December 30 he hurried to 
London. Anxious thoughts and troubled dreams attended him on 
that cold, cheerless journey, for he had received a telegram that Dr. 
Jameson, a high agent of the Chartered South Africa Company had, 
with five or six himdred armed men, entered the Transvaal. Mr. 
Rhodes, the Prime Minister of Cape Colony, who was managing director 
of the Company, had placed that force on its territory, ready to go, if 
necessary, to the assistance of Reformers in Johannesburg, who were 
demanding from the Boers a share of political power. Dr. Jameson 
' went in ' on his own authority, but Mr. Rhodes took responsibility 
for his action and sent for publication in The Times an appeal for help, 
signed by leading inhabitants of Johannesburg, which had been drawn 
up in anticipation of an armed incursion. The last day of 1895 was 
spent by Mr. Chamberlain at the Colonial Office, from ten o'clock in the 
morning till half-past seven in the evening, and the New Year opened 
with intense excitement throughout the country and the empire. One 
amazing piece of news rapidly followed another. It was announced, 
in turn, that the Raid into the Transvaal had taken place, that Mr. 
Chamberlain had telegraphed peremptory instractions to the High 

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TRANSVAAL RAID AND INQUIRY 207 

Commissioner at the Cape to stop Jameson and turn him back ; that 
Jameson had disregarded the instructions ; finally, that he had been 
surrounded by the Boers at Krugersdorp and had surrendered. In the 
intervals between the scenes in this rapid drama people had scarcely 
time to reflect on what was passing. 

Qualities of ' statesmanlike courage, promptitude and decision ' 
were, according to Sir William Harcourt and other Radicals, displayed 
by the Colonial Secretary. Mr. Fairfield, one of the permanent oflScials 
of his department, who had been put upon the scent of the Raid by a 
suggestion in a financial newspaper that Jameson might take the bit 
between his teeth, had written to him at Birmingham saying that such a 
suggestion had been made, and asking whether it would not be well to 
issue a warning. This led to Mr. Chamberlain sending a confidential 
telegram on December 29 to the High Commissioner, to the effect that 
it had been suggested, although he did not think it probable, that an 
endeavour might be made to force matters at Johannesburg by some one 
connected with the South Africa Company advancing with a force from 
Bechuanaland, and requesting him to warn Mr. Rhodes, if necessary, 
that should this be done the Government would take action under the 
Charter. On hearing next day that the frontier had been crossed, 
Mr. Chamberlain hastened from Birmingham to Whitehall and acted 
with energy and resolution. His conduct in trying to stop Jameson 
was disapproved of only by his new friends, the Jingoes. Dr. ' Jim ' 
was their hero ; his praises were shouted in music-halls ; for a few de- 
lirious hours it was believed he would succeed ; and deep was the 
chagrin when the news of his surrender was announced. 

The popularity of Mr. Chamberlain among the aggressive imperial- 
ists was revived by his spirited protest against foreign interference. 
The German Emperor sent a telegram to Mr. Kruger, the President of 
the Transvaal Republic, congratulating him on the fact that ' without 
appealing for the help of friendly Powers' he had succeeded against 
armed bands which invaded his country. This message, with the sug- 
gestion that 'friendly Powers' might have intervened if called upon, 
aroused the sensitive temper of the British people, and the Colonial 
Secretary made himself the national mouthpiece by declaring that we 
would resist at all costs the interference of any foreign coimtry in the 
affairs of the Republic. In order to be prepared for every emergency 
the Government corMnissioned a flying squadron, but fortunately its 
services were not required. When Mr. Chamberlain returned to Bir- 
mingham at the dose of the first busy fortnight of 1896, he was cheered 
enthusiastically by admiring crowds. He was the strong man who, 
while disapproving of armed raids, had thwarted the designs of an am- 
bitious emperor, and who would see that British interests were protected. 

Redress of the grievances of the Uitlanders in the Transvaal was 



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2o8 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

promptly insisted upon by the Colonial Secretary. Even in repudiat- 
ing the irregular action of Dr. Jameson he made it the starting point 
for new official efforts, while the military authorities at the same time 
were urging the formation of a garrison in Northern Natal which ' would 
always enable us, in case of need, to take up a strong forward posi- 
tion.' Mr. Chamberlain showed in a speech at Birmingham how there 
was just cause for discontent in the Transvaal. ' The majority of the 
population pay nine-tenths of the taxation and have no share whatever 
in the government of the country. That is an anomaly which does not 
exist in any other civilised community, and it is an anomaly which 
wise and prudent statesmanship would remove. I beheve that it can 
be removed without danger to the independence of the Republic, and I 
believe that until it is removed you will have no permanent guarantee 
against future internal disturbances. This is the problem which is 
before President Kruger, and which has for England, as the paramount 
power in South Africa, the deepest possible interest.' With the view to 
an amicable settlement the Colonial Secretary invited the Boer leader, 
if it suited his convenience and if he were agreeable, to come to this 
country for a personal conference. Two of Mr. Kruger's personal 
friends had given a positive assurance that he desired such an invita- 
tion and would accept it. 

At the opening of Parliament Mr. Chamberlain was applauded by a 
crowd outside Palace Yard as large as ever waited to honour Mr. Glad- 
stone, and when he entered the House he was greeted cordially by both 
sides. Radicals cheered because he tried to stop Jameson and had 
repudiated the Raid ; Jingoes cheered because he had defied the Kaiser 
and espoused the cause of Johannesburg. His warning to the Trans- 
vaal in an early debate was even more significant than at Birmingham, 
' We are entitled,' he claimed, ' to give President Kruger friendly coun- 
sel, to warn him of the consequences of a recalcitrant attitude of oppo- 
sition to every kind of reform.' A suggestion of Home Rule for the 
Rand led to some genial banter from Sir William Harcourt on the 
Colonial Secretary's ' early and best manner,' and when his former 
colleague jocularly wished him a fortunate issue to the Round Table 
Conference with Mr. Kruger, he bowed with an ironical gesture. The 
whole country watched with keen interest, and perhaps with less 
gravity than the issues demanded, the encounter between the astutest 
politician in England and the ' slim' President of the Transvaal. They 
were well matched. 

Reliance was placed on Mr. Kruger's prudence in the hour of his 
victory. Policy, if not generosity, induced him to hand over the 
leaders of the Raid to Great Britain for trial ; and in due course oi law 
they were convicted at the High Court of infringements of the Foreign 
Enlistments Act. They were sentenced to terms of imprisonment 



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TRANSVAAL RAID AND INQUIRY 209 

vaiying from fifteen months in Dr. Jameson's case to five in the case 
of the least responsible officers. Jameson was, however, released 
within six months on account of ill-health. Meanwhile, the leaders 
of the ' Reform ' or Revolutionary Committee of Johannesburg were 
tried at Pretoria, and four of them were sentenced to death, but 
the capital sentence was commuted. Those who then petitioned 
were set free, the others being liberated at Queen Victoria's Jubilee. 

A new sort of diplomacy was introduced by Mr. Chamberlain in 
communicating to the world everything that was occurring, ' not week 
by week but moment by moment.' The earhest complaint of this 
system related to a dispatch submitting suggestions for the considera- 
tion of the Transvaal Government, which he published before it could 
have reached Pretoria. While Jingoes at home and Uitlanders in 
Johannesburg were satisfied with what Mr. Dillon described as the 
' superb arrogance of the dispatch,' Radicals were of opinion that its 
premature publication may have prejudiced Mr. Kruger's view of the 
invitation which had been addressed to him, although no doubt other 
influences were at work to prevent him from coming to England. It 
was found impossible to arrange a basis of negotiation. Mr. Kruger 
not only refused to discuss grievances which Mr. Chamberlain desired 
to repiove but claimed the right to reopen consideration of the article 
of the London Convention referring to British suzerainty which Her 
Majesty's Government would not discuss. In the circumstances the 
coimtry learned with amusement rather than with surprise that it 
would be wiser not to press the invitation, and three months after it 
had been sent it was withdrawn. 

The necessity of reform continued, however, to be pressed upon Mr. 
Kruger's attention, and as a precautionary measure the Government 
decided to send out a battalion of the line and a body of mounted in- 
fantry to increase the garrison at the Cape — a reinforcement which in 
the light of subsequent events looked paltry, but which at the time 
was regarded as significant. Opponents of Mr. Chamberlain asserted 
that very soon after he went to the Colonial Office, if not at the time of 
his appointment, he determined even at the cost of war to tighten the 
British grip on South Africa, but his early speeches did not reveal any 
provocative intention. On the contrary he urged at the Constitutional 
Club, on April 22, that * we should use every exertion, exhaust every 
means, to secure good feeling between the Dutch and the English,' 
and in debate on the Colonial Office vote on May 8 he presented the 
case against war in a vigorous and telling passage, of which he was 
subsequently reminded scores of times by the peace party — 

A war in South Africa would be one of the most serious wars that could 
possibly be waged. It would be in the nature of a civil war. It would be a long 

14 



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«io JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

war, a bitter war and a costly war ; and it would leave behind it embers of a 
strife whidi I believe generations would hardly be long enough to extinguish. 

Of course, he continued, there might be contingencies in which a 
great Power had to face even such an alternative as this, * but to go to 
war with President Kruger in order to force upon him reforms in the 
internal affairs of his State — ^with which successive Secretaries of State 
had repudiated all right of interference — ^that would have been a course 
of action as inmioral as it would have been unwise/ 

Confidence was felt at this crisis by almost all members of both 
parties in the strong Minister's attitude. While the Liberals were 
relieved by his declarations in favour of continued friendly relations 
with the Transvaal, the advocates of a forward policy were satisfied 
with his insistence on oiu: position as the paramount Power. Both 
approved of his emphatic protest against foreign interference. Hints 
and suggestions were not only whispered but published that Mr. Cham- 
berlain was unofficially aware of the preparations for the Raid, and 
would have accepted its results if it had proved successful. 

Treason doth never prosper : what's the reason ? 
Why, if it prosper, none dare caU it treason. 

Suspicions, however, as to what he may have conjectured did not 
affect the prestige which the Colonial Secretary enjoyed. He was 
celebrated as * the pilot that weathered the storm.' The degree of 
D.C.L. was conferred on him by the University of Oxford in June, 1896, 
and Professor Goudy expressed the national feeling when he said the 
laurel crown of merit was due to one who, placed at the helm of the 
British ship at a period of storm and stress, had brought her safely 
through all the tempests, confident in himself, unterrified by threats of 
foreign Powers, desirous only of preserving and handing on undimin- 
ished to his successors the inmiense and precious possessions entrusted 
to his care. 

Even at the beginning of 1897 Sir William Harcourt, the most 
vigilant and imflinching opponent of a forward policy, was satisfied 
with the Ministerial tone. In debate the Colonial Secretary alluded 
approvingly to the desire of all sections of the House of Commons to 
do everything possible to allay the feeling of race animosity in South 
Africa, and to promote those good relations between Dutch and 
English without which the peace and prosperity of the country were 
absolutely impossible. * That,' he said, ' is my policy ; and that will be 
my policy consistently so long as I have the honour to hold my present 
office.' So pacific a declaration was regarded as specially important 
seeing that the situation gave cause for considerable anxiety. Mr. 
Chamberlain complained that recent legislation of the Transvaal 
Government contained provisions contrary to the Convention of 



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TRANSVAAL RAID AND INQUIRY 211 

London, and that the response to the representations of the Uitlanders 
had been unsatisfactory. Nevertheless Sir William Harcourt found 
his speech prudent and moderate. 

A change occurred in spring. It may have been due partly to Pre- 
sident Kruger's bill of costs on account of the Raid, with the item of 
one million sterling for * moral or intellectual damage.' When Mr. 
Chamberlain, in a quizzing tone, presented the little account to the 
House of Commons, it was received with mocking laughter and this was 
followed by a good deal of irritation. As a set-ofi he pressed his own 
counter statement of grievances, and then at last the peace party be- 
came alarmed. An angry scene occurred in April, when a vote of 
£200,000 was taken for the increase of the regular garrison in South 
Africa by a brigade of artillery and an additional regiment, considerable 
reinforcements being placed at Ladysmith, close to the Transvaal and 
the Orange Free State. Sir William Harcourt delivered a very ani- 
mated attack on the powerful Minister, declaring that in the previous 
few months he had been endeavouring to exasperate sentiment in South 
Africa, and to produce what ' thank God, he had failed in producing, a 
racial war.' This high-pitched language aroused passion in the House. 
Mr. Chamberlain, who had gone to his room, was sent for by Mr. Bal- ' 
four, and when he returned to the Treasury bench he was greeted by the 
Ministerialists with cheers of confidence. On the other hand the equally 
earnest Radicals expressed their approval while Sir William Harcourt 
continued his strictures. When he sat down, the Colonial Secretary 
sprang up and replied with unusual warmth, the words rushing from 
him in a torrent. He accused his critic of using 'pernicious and 
dangerous language, unpatriotic in the highest degree, embarrassing to 
the Government and injurious to the cause of peace.' ' On more than 
one occasion,' he said, ' the Transvaal Government have broken the 
Convention, and we are calling upon them in friendly and conciliatory 
terms to give us satisfaction. -AJid this is the opportunity the right 
honourable gentleman takes to tell them that they are not to give us 
satisfaction, to tell them in effect it is we who are aggressive, that it is 
we who have taken the initiative, and that they will have the support 
of the Government and the people of Cape Colony.' This was the first 
of many severe encounters provoked by the case of the Transvaal 
between the two hardest hitters in Parliament. 

The inquiry conducted by an influential committee of the House of 
Commons into the origin and circumstances of the Raid occupied a 
large portion of Mr. Chamberlain's time in 1897. All the personages 
prominently connected with that reckless event, the consequences of 
which were ever widening, were seen in a committee room in West- 
minster Hall, but none excited keener curiosity than the Minister him- 
self. He also was on his trial. He had enemies who wished he might 



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212 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

be ruined in a political sense by evidence that he knew of the prepara- 
tions for the Raid. Yet he had no reason to complam of the measure 
meted out to him by his colleagues on the Committee. The most in- 
teresting statement bearing on the suggestion of his own possible fore- 
knowledge was made by Dr. Rutherfoord Harris, who was formerly 
Secretary in South Africa to the Chartered Company. Dr. Harris de- 
scribed an interview which he had with the Colonial Secretary and the 
Under Secretary (Lord Selbome) in August, 1895, on the subject of the 
proposed transfer of the Bechuanaland Protectorate to the Chartered 
Company.^ He said that at this interview he referred to the unrest at 
Johannesburg and added a guarded allusion to the desirability of there 
being a police force near the border. The Conunittee and the audience 
waited breathlessly for what was to follow this reference, as it had been 
insinuated that an astute statesman must have suspected that the 
object was to have a force conveniently placed for ' jumping off ' into 
the Transvaal. ' Mr. Chamberlain,' according to Dr. Harris, ' at once 
demurred to the turn the conversation had taken, and I never referred 
to the subject again.' 

After hearing this evidence, the Colonial Secretary sat in the witness 
chair and gave his own recollection of the interview. He informed the 
Committee that Dr. Harris, on referring to the agitation of the Reform- 
ers, said, ' I could tell you something in confidence,' or ' I could give 
some confidential information,' and that he stopped him at once, re- 
marking : ' I do not want to hear any confidential information. I am 
here in an official capacity, and I can only hear information of which I 
can make official use.' If any allusion were made to the desirability of 
there being a police force near the border, Mr. Chamberlain did not 
understand it as referring to anything such as subsequently occurred. 
He declared in the most explicit manner that he did not then have, 
and never had any knowledge nor — ^imtil he thought the day before the 
Raid took place — ^the slightest suspicion of anything in the nature of a 
hostile or armed undertaking. A month later, again tendering his own 
evidence, he spoke of the impressions left on his mind by the interview 
with Dr. Harris. He said he knew the Chartered Company were going 
to have troops near the border in connexion with the railway which was 
being constructed and any allusion such as that referred to would not 
have aroused suspicion in his mind. It had been asserted that in a 
subsequent conversation with Mr. Fairfield, the permanent official, who 
died before the inquiry took place. Dr. Harris said Mr. Rhodes thought 
it imperative to have troops on the border so that in the event of a 
disturbance taking place in Johannesburg he might be in a position, if 

> A portion of the Protectorate was transferred to the Company in order 
that the railway to Buluwayo might be expedited, and might be wholly in the 
Chartered territory. 



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TRANSVAAL RAID AND INQUIRY 213 

necessary, to use force, but Mr. Chamberlain expressed his conviction 
that if the words were used, his subordinate, who was very deaf, did 
not hear them or did not understand them. His denial of fore- 
knowledge by the Department was supported by his colleague. Lord 
Selbome, a man of the strictest integrity and honour. 

The Committee, which included several of his strongest political 
opponents, fully accepted his statement, and found that neither the 
Colonial Ofi&ce nor the Secretary himself was in any way privy to or 
implicated in the Raid. Notwithstanding this exoneration, however, 
a doubt lingered in unfriendly minds. Suspicion was fed by what had 
occurred with reference to mj^erious cablegrams which passed between 
Dr. Rutherfoord Harris and Mr. Rhodes in the latter part of 1895, 
and which were supposed to involve the complicity of the Department. 
Before the inquiry took place, when Mr. Chamberlain heard rumours 
about these messages, he insisted on seeing them, and when he retiuned 
them he instructed Mr. Fairfield to say he had no personal objection to 
their publication. The Committee called on Mr. Hawksley, Mr. 
Rhodes's solicitor, to produce the cablegrams, but he refused on the 
ground that he had no authority from his client to do so and although 
they threatened to take action in Parliament, they did nothing, because 
Mr. Hawksley would be the wrong man to punish, and they were un- 
willing to delay the completion of the inquiry in order to secure again 
the attendance of Mr. Rhodes who had returned to South Africa. 

Some tel^ams were obtained from the Eastern Telegraph Com- 
pany which had passed between Mr. Rhodes and Miss Flora Shaw 
(afterwards the wife of Sir Frederick Lugard), a newspaper 
correspondent who went to the Colonial Office twice or thrice a week for 
journalistic purposes. Miss Shaw, who was aware that a rising was 
contemplated, wired to Mr. Rhodes on December 17, 1895, ' Cham- 
berlain sound in case of interference European Powers, but have special 
reason to beUeve wishes you must do it inunediately.' This she had 
founded on a remark by Mr. Fairfield, ' Well, if the Johannesburgers are 
going to rise, it is to be hoped they will do it soon.' On December 30, 
after the Raid, a telegram in Mr. Rhodes's name was despatched to the 
lady journalist, ' Inform Chamberlain that I shall get through all 
right if he supports me but he must not send cable like he sent to High 
Commissioner in South Africa. ' This was the cable containing the warn- 
ing with reference to the Charter. On January i, 1896, Miss Shaw 
tel^raphed, ' Chamberlain awfully angry,' but she stated at the inquiry 
that that report was based on no official conmiunication whatever. To 
her telegrams the Committee attached little importance. They whetted, 
however, the appetite of the public for revelations, and increased 
the suspicions of those who distrusted the Colonial Secretary. 

Radicals in debate on the report of the Committee on July 26, 1897, 



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214 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

expressed discontent with their ' inconclusive action ' and especially 
complained of the non-production of the Harris and Rhodes cable- 
grams, but Sir William Harcourt defended Mr. Chamberlain, rel3ang on 
his evidence and stating that there was not the smallest ground on 
which they were entitled to entertain a doubt of his conduct. Sir 
Henry Campbell-Bannerman also trusted the Minister's word, and 
made fun of cabl^ams from A to B about C. Several of the members 
who called for the documents expressed their own disbelief in the 
insinuations against the Colonial Secretary. At the same time, an 
independent Unionist, in pressing for further inquiry, showed concern 
for his honour. ' I am perfectly content,' proudly retorted Mr. 
Chamberlain, ' to leave my honour to take care of itself.' His answer 
to his accusers lay in his action ; he pointed to what he did when the 
Raid took place, without knowing whether it was successful or not. ' I 
had/ he said, ' the advice of many persons interested in South Africa, 
who called upon me, to hold my hand, and I had every excuse for hold- 
ing my hand. I was alone in London ; I had no conmumication with 
my colleagues ; I had to act at a moment's notice ; and I did act in 
spite of all the temptations to refrain, in spite of the doubts in my own 
mind, because I felt that the act of Dr. Jameson was wrong and that 
therefore as a Minister of the Crown I was bound to repudiate it.' 

One of the strangest incidents in this perplexing affair startled the 
Liberals during the debate on the Committee's report. Acon'ding to 
their findings, in which the Colonial Secretary concurred, Mr. Rhodes 
was involved in grave breaches of duty to those to whom he owed 
alliance ; and he was censured for subsidizing, organizing and 
stimulating an anned insurrection against the Government of the South 
African Republic and employing the forces and resources of the Chartered 
Company to support such a revolution. Great was the surprise, and on 
one side at least great was the shock, caused by Mr. Chamberlain's 
comment on the empire-builder who was thus omdenmed. ' I am 
perfectly convinced/ he said, ' that while the fault of Mr. Rhodes is 
about as great a fault as a politician or statesman can conunit, there 
has been nothing proved — and in my opinion there exists nothing — 
which affects Mr. Rhodes's personal position as a man of honour.' 
While Conservatives of the forward school of Iniperialism cheered this 
declaration Liberals were thoroughly astounded. They sat in voiceless 
amazement for a moment, and then relieved their feelings by indignant 
murmurs. 

Suspicion was revived by so unexpected a palliation of the chief 
offender's conduct. Although Mr. Rhodes himself had informed the 
Committee of Inquiry that he did not state to any one that Mr. 
Chamberlain knew ansrthing regarding the preparations for the Raid, it 
was asserted that his friends could, if they would, make damaging 



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TRANSVAAL RAID AND INQUIRY 215 

revelations. This idea of a sword hanging over the Minister's head 
was maintained for several years by gossips who pretended to know all 
about the letters and telegrams referred to in the inquiry. At last 
in the beginning of igoo, the mysterious documents, or a niunber of 
them, appe^ed in a Belgian newspaper, and thereupon the insinuations 
and charges were quickly dropped except by certain extreme censors 
of the Colonial Secretary's proceedings who insisted on describing him 
as a conspirator. The bomb proved harmless. There was nothing in 
' that precious collection of documents ' — as Mr. Chamberlain called it 
— ^which was not known to the Committee when they gave their report. 
Although, however, his conduct with reference to the Raid thus stood 
the scrutiny of time nothing could convince the Boers that he was not 
concerned in it and his personal certificate to Mr. Rhodes, which he 
defended privately on the ground that it would be politically in- 
expedient to drive him to the wall, was held responsible for the 
obstinacy of President Kruger, and for the suspicion which fostered 
the war feeling. ' Of all forms of prestige,' writes Mr. Lecky, in 
glancing at this episode, ' moral prestige is the most valuable, and no 
statesman should forget that one of the chief elements of British power 
is the moral weight that is behind it. It is the conviction that British 
power is essentially honourable and straightforward, that the word and 
honour of its statesmen and diplomatists may be implicitly trusted, 
and that intrigues and deceptions are whoUy alien to their nature." *- 

1 The Map of Life, 



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XXIX 
THE NEW IMPERIALIST 

MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S manner changed after his appointment 
as a Secretary of State. For nine years his temper had been 
tried by quarrels with old friends ; he had become even more pug- 
nacious and provocative and at the same time more sensitive than 
in earlier years. Office and power now soothed him, let loose his 
will, and brought out his higher qualities. His face assumed a less 
bitter, less sardonic aspect, and his language a more persuasive 
form. Instead of being alvraj^ the party controversialist ready to 
take and give offence, and eagerly seeking to disparage former 
<x)lleagues, he adopted the loftier, serener air of one who spoke 
for the country. As the Times in its review of the session of 
1897 bore testimony Mr. Chamberlain distinctly increased his 
high political reputation. ' In addition to his old quaUties of intre- 
pidity, adroitness and trenchant power of reasoning, he displayed a 
more mature capacity for taking broad and decided yet sober views 
of complex situations and problems.' Unfortunately the old spirit 
was to break out again, but for a period he rose above the politician 
•engrossed in party controversies. His ambition took a wider range. 
The passion of imperiaUsm kindled by his resistance to Home 
Rule was fanned by his colonial administration in the coaUtion 
Government. We have seen that he had repudiated the parochialism 
of which he formerly boasted, and now he dropped into poetry to 
popularize the idea of the empire's unity. Early in 1896, at a dinner 
in London, he expressed this sentiment in the words of Tennyson : — 

Britain's m3aiad voices call 
Sons, be welded each and all. 
Into one imperial whole. 
One with Britain, heart and soul ! 

One life, one flag, one fleet, one Throne. 

A year later, at the Jewellers' Dinner in Birmingham, he complained 
that the leaders of the Opposition gave excessive attention to domestic 
controversies — 'which after all, whichever way they are settled, 
are of minor importance ' — and forgot the great part which the coun- 
try had played and was called upon to play in the history of the worid. 
' Let the Little Englanders say what they like, we are a great govern- 
ing race, predestined by our defects as well as by our virtues, to 
spread over the habitable globe, to enter into relations with all the 

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THE NEW IMPERIALIST 217 

countries of the earth. Our trade, the employment of our people, 
oiu: very existence depends upon it. We cannot occupy an insular 
position, and we cannot occupy ourselves entirely with parochial 
matters.' 

Patriotism was the subject of an eloquent address delivered by 
Mr. Chamberlain in November, 1897, as Lord Rector of Glasgow 
University. He assured the students that through all his vicissitudes 
he had always sought the greatness of the empire and the welfare of 
the people at large. The boast may have been justified, but the 
' greatness of the empire ' now figured much more conspicuously 
than in his earlier speeches. ' Is it contended,' he asked, ' that the 
weary Titan staggers under the too vast orb of her fate, and that 
we have not the strength to sustain the burden of the empire ? ' 
He forgot that about twenty years previously he admitted that 
' already the weary Titan staggers under the too vast orb of 
her fate.' ^ In the interval evidently the Titan had borne the biurden 
well. The time was again to come when Mr. Chamberlain would 
say : ' The weary Titan staggers,' but in 1897, he asked : ' Why 
should we shrink from owe task, or allow the sceptre of empire to 
fall from our hands — 

Through craven fears of being great ? ' 

At a banquet at Glasgow on November 4, he crystallized his sentiments 
in the bold utterance : ' We believe in the greatness of the empire. 
We are not afraid of its expansion. We think that a nation, like an 
individual, is the better for having great responsibilities and great 
obligations.' 

V^ The idea of imperial federation, of a closer link with the colonies, 
took increasing hold of his imagination. He introduced it in many 
speeches, and at Liverpool in January, 1898, he expressed his aspira- 
tion in the words of an ' imperially-minded poet ' : — * 

Also, we will make promise. So long as The Blood endures, 

I shall know that your good is mine : ye shall feel that my strength is yours : 

In the day of Armageddon, at the last great fight of all, 

That Our House stand together and the pillars do not fall. 

^ Yes, we arraijgn her 1 but she. 
The weary Titan, with deaf 
Ears and labour-dimmed eyes. 
Regarding neither to right 
Nor left, goes passively by. 
Staggering on to her goal ; 
Bearing on shoulders immense, 
Atlantean, the load. 
Well-nigh not to be borne. 
Of the too vast orb of her fate. 

— ^Matthew Arnold. 
» ' England's Answer ' in Rudyard Kipling Reciter. 



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2i8 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

While there was a new, boastful ring in some of his utterances, he 
maintained a high conception of national duty. For instance, he 
said at Birmingham : ' The Providence that shapes our ends intended 
us to be a great governing power — conquering, yes conquering, but 
conquering only in order to civilize, to administer and to develop 
vast races on the world's surface, primarily for their advantage, but 
no doubt for our advantage as well.' 

V Some embarrassment was caused to the Foreign Office by Mr. 
Chamberlain's language and action in 1898. Liberals accused him 
of tr3ang to pick a quarrel with France when he was promoting British 
interests with — ^perhaps too much — ^impetuosity. At the close of 
a sitting of the House of Commons he read with dramatic effect tele- 
grams announcing that a French force had invaded British territory 
in the hinterland of Lagos. The two countries were then active in 
West Africa ; their relations were in a delicate condition, and it was 
feared that a collision might take place which would lead to war. 
While Mr. Chamberlain was blamed by Liberals at home for hot- 
headness, he became the foreign bogey of the Paris press, and admirers 
explained that this meant that France could not squeeze him. For- 
tunately the matters in dispute in West Africa were settled by a 
Convention, by which we secured sufficient hinterland for our colonies. 
Notwithstanding the sneers excited by his new diplomacy when 
applied to the Transvaal, he introduced it in European controversy. 
To his mind, he candidly said, there was no longer any room for 
the mysteries and the reticences of the diplomacy of fifty years ago. 
Ours, as he argued, is a democratic Government ; we gain all our 
strength from the confidence of the people, and we cannot gain strength 
or have that confidence unless we show confidence in return. 

This doctrine, which Mr. Chamberlain may have laid down for 
the benefit of Lord Salisbury, was carried too far. In a sensational 
passage of a speech on May 13, 1898, referring to the methods by 
which Russia secured the occupation of Port Arthur, he remarked 
that he had always thought it was a very wise proverb : ' Who sups 
with the devil must have a long spoon.' ^ On the same occasion he 
drew an alarmist picture of the combination of great Powers by which 
we might be confronted at any moment, and he strongly advocated 
an Anglo-Saxon alliance — ^an aUiance, that is to say, with our kinsmen 
across the Atlantic. This speech, according to an observer, partly 
amused and partly scandalized Europe; and in America also it 
caused no little surprise. Foreign tel^ams to the British papers 
jvere full of conmients on the 'long spoon.' Everybody wondered 
what Lord Salisbury thought of it. Lord Kimberley said he would 
certainly be sorry to be responsible for foreign a£Eairs with Mr. Cham- 
* DRomo^* He must have a long spoon that must eat with the devil.' 



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THE NEW IMPERIALIST 219 

berlain as a colleague, but when the attention of the Peers was called 
to his too frank utterance, Lord Salisbury declined to discuss the 
matter ' without adequate opportiuiity of examining the accuracy ' 
of the quotations. This was interpreted by cynical listeners to mean 
that he had not read his colleague's remarks, and if the interpretation 
was correct Mr. Chamberlain soon had his tit-for-tat with his chief. 
On the subject being discussed in the House of Conmions and reference 
made to a statement by Lord Salisbury at a Primrose League meeting 
the Colonial Secretary retorted that he had not a copy of the Prime 
Minister's speech 1 This was the quip sarcastic. As to the assertion 
that he differed from his chief, he gaily said : ' I have not resigned ; 
I have not been cast out by my colleagues.' This was the retort 
defiant. Probably when the secrets of the coalition are revealed 
it will be found that Mr. Chamberlain's position in the Government 
at this time was difficult, if not precarious. / 

'Touting for an ally in the highways and byways of Europe,' ^ 
was Mr. Asquith's contemptuous description of his foreign policy, 
and the Liberal critic also deprecated the use of ' pictiuresque meta- 
phors drawn from the dialect of the new diplomacy.' A Conservative 
member who regarded the old Radical with jealousy likened his 
language to that of ancient Pistol, when eating the leek. Mr. Cham- 
berlain did not apologize, but explained that the only alliance he advo- 
cated in the meantime was with the United States. The significance 
of hard words was never exaggerated by one who used them so freely. 
He gave them and took them as part of the political order of life. 
A few days after he had been denounced by Mr. Asquith, the two 
statesmen and their wives, accompanied by several friends, visited 
the ' Old Cheshire Cheese ' in Fleet Street. They had an admirable 
cicerone for the occasion in Mr. Birrell, who supplied them with 
much curious lore concerning the tavern. The association of the 
' Cheshire Cheese ' with Dr. Johnson, however slight it may have been, 
is sufficient to draw many Americans, and no doubt Mrs. Chamberlain 
as a native of a new country felt the spell of the old. 

The Fashoda affair, which if rashly handled might have led to war, 
reached its dangerous crisis while the exponent of the new diplomacy 
was on a visit to America. Even he, however, was satisfied with 
the resoluteness with which Lord Salisbury acted when it became 
known that Major Marchand, with a small force, had reached the 
basin of the Upper Nile, and in spite of a warning that such a step 
would be regarded by us as an unfriendly act, had hoisted the French 
flag. There was deep anxiety during the negotiations which followed 
Lord Kitchener's arrival at Fashoda, and his daim to it on behalf of 
Great Britain and Egypt. Fortunately good temper and good counsel 
prevailed and while we disclaimed any desire to pick a quarrel with 



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220 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

our neighbours, they decided not to retain the mission at a place 
where it was powerless. Speaking at Manchester on November 15, 
soon after his return from America, Mr. Chamberlain said the people 
of this country wanted to be friends of the great nation on the other 
side of the Channel, but friendship must be based on mutual 
respect and mutual consideration, and he recalled certain provoca- 
tive proceedings of the French in the past. On the following day 
he urged the establishment of close relations with Germany besides a 
combination between the two great English-speaking peoples. His 
wishes outran the general sentiment. But a few weeks later he r^narked 
that although the British Empire was well able to defend against 
all attack its own possessions and its own exclusive interests, there 
. were interests in which Germany and England could agree to assist 

\y^ each other's policy, and he pleaded once more also for a c ardial frien d- 
ship, with th& J Jnit e d States. "^ ^ 
Even during the war with the Boers, if we may anticipate the 
narrative, Mr. Chamberlain did not hesitate to rebuke foreign coun- 
tries. Correct diplomatists doubted the discretion of admonition 
at a time when we were hard pressed in South Africa, with scarcely 
any powerful friends anywhere, but proud, high-spirited words were 
on the whole approved by the populace. On November 30, 1899, at 
Leicester, shortly after an interview with the Kaiser at Windsor, the 
Colonial Secretary again recommended a new Triple Alliance between 
the Teutonic race and the two great branches of the Anglo-Saxon 
people. At the same time he warned the French that attacks on 
Queen Victoria by their journalists and caricaturists had ' provoked 
in this country a natural indignation which will have serious conse- 
quences if our neighbours do not mend their manners.' For this 
rough threat, which caused some statesmen at home to shudder, Mr. 
Chamberlain was ridiculed and reprimanded in the French press. 
Elsewhere his ' touting ' overtures for allies were received coldly. 

u^ Prudent McKinl ey>in a message to Congress, on December 5, alluding 
to the bduth African War, significantly said : ' We have remained 
faithful to the precept of avoiding entangling alliances as to affairs 
not of direct concern.' 

In the case of Germany Mr. Chamberlain's attitude was sarcastically 
compared by a Unionist journal to the conduct of the imaginary 
Edwin who, while he is only a soupirant, and not the engaged lover, 
announces that his marriage has been arranged with Angelina. The 
facts, however, as stated by his friends, were that Count von Bittow, 
the German Chancellor, called unofficially upon him at his private 
residence, and in the course of conversation remarked that much good 
could be effected by the fostering of the most cordial relations between 
the two countries, and that no one could contribute more successfully 



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THE NEW IMPERIALIST 221 

to this desirable consummation than Mr. Chamberlain, with his 
wonderful influence upon the minds of the democracy. In response 
to this friendly suggestion the Colonial Secretary, without consulting 
his colleagues, delivered the Leicester speech.^ It was received very 
badly in Germany with the result that, as he said, the Chancellor 
threw him over in the Reichstag. 

There was one direction in which Mr. Chamberlain's imperialism 
was manifested both nobly and consistently. A tribute is due to him 
for his action in securing merciful treatment for the natives of colonies. 
He would have agreed with the passage in which De Quincey wrote : 
' If a r^ Deum, or an 0, Jubilate I were to be celebrated by all nations 
and languages for any one advance and absolute conquest over wrong 
and error won by human natiure in oiu: times — ^yes, not excepting 
"the bloody writing by all nations torn" — the abolition of the 
commerce in slaves — ^to my thinking, that festival should be for the 
mighty progress made towards the suppression of brutal, bestial modes 
of punishment.' Against brutal modes Mr. Chamberlain steadily 
and watchfully set himself, maintaining in office the humanitarian 
views which he expressed as an independent member. 

His mark was left conspicuously on West Africa, where our 
twritories in the hinterland were not only extended but clearly de- 
limited, and where a new administration was introduced, and he 
contributed also to the development of the West Indies. In his 
dealings with the rulers of the great dominions he was an accept- 
able Secretary of State. He maintained the imperial authority 
with firmness. At the same time he was free both from condes- 
cension and from indifference. He showed a most eager desire 
to strengthen the friendship and affection between the mother country 
and the colonies and to increase their common interest, and his aspira- 
tions were warmly reciprocated across the seas. It proved a wise course 
to give the Secretaryship to so prominent and powerful a statesman. 
Colonial ministers were gratified to deal with one so celebrated, and 
one so able to secure attention to their views. His regime was in 
several respects exceedingly interesting and if war had not left upon it 
the mark of blood all his fellow-citizens would have regarded it 
with S5mipathy and admiration. 



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XXX 

'THE HAND OF JOAB ' 

A SHREWD and frank Conservative noting Mr. Chamberlain's 
manifold occupations in the year of the Diamond Jubilee of 
Queen \^ctoria, said he did not wonder that Mr. Kruger proved himself 
superior to the finished diplomatists of more civilised nations. The 
ruler of the Transvaal, as he remarked, was free from the necessity of 
attending to Employers' liability and Old Age Pensions and strikes 
of Trades Unions, and the thousand different subjects on which the 
energies of our statesmen were ' frittered away.* Those who had 
hoped that the Colonial Secretary would confine his zeal to the affairs 
of the Colonies were disappointed. There may have been enough even 
for his mind in his own department, but he had extoUed the Unionists 
as the party of social reform ; it was in that character that they ob- 
tained their majority ; and he continued his effort to l^ven Conser- 
vatism with his own sort of Radicalism, and to show that his new 
colleagues, and not the Liberals, were the true friends of the people. 
A statesman so ready for change was still distrusted by the contented 
classes. ' Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too 
much ; such men are dangerous.' At the same time he was obliged 
to acquiesce in measures which liberals considered retrograde, and 
which were opposed to the instincts and principles of his earlier days. 
The year 1896 would not have been a happy one for him if he cared 
much for consistency. His opponents were able to jeer while the 
Government of which he was so prominent a member gave grants in 
relief of the landed interest and voluntary schools. ' Doles to the 
squire and the parson ! ' cried the scornful, mocking Radicals. During 
the debates on such matters Mr. Chamberlain was as a rule conspicuous 
by his absence from the House. He attended to answer questions, 
but on these being finished he retired to his own room. At Birming- 
ham, however, it was necessary for the former champion of a non- 
sectarian system to refer to the Education Bill, and he defended it 
with reckless courage. He admitted that in 1870 he was in favour of 
the extinction of the voluntary schools, and he confessed, ' I have 
changed my mind.' His excuse was financial. Voluntary schools 
had enormously increased until now they provided for the education 
of four-sevenths of the children of the country, and in these circmn- 



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'THE HAND OF JOAB' 223 

stances he was not prepared for the cost of rootmg up the system. 
Many other Liberals, as well as Mr. Asquith, read his speech on the 
subject, ' with something akin to the sense of admiring bewilderment 
which overtakes us when at an earlier stage of our life we first make the 
discorery that it is equally easy for an accomplished acrobat to stand 
upon his head or upon his heels.' 

The bill was withdrawn in 1896 for want of time, Mr. Balfour im- 
patiently remarking that in her old age the Mother of Parliaments was 
becoming somewhat garrulous, but in the following year a new measure 
was introduced ' for the Promotion of Primary Education, by securing 
the Maintenance of Voluntary Schools.' In their first scheme the 
Government proposed to give four shillings per child in average atten- 
dance ; the second raised the new grant in voluntary schools to five 
shillings. This it was estimated would amount in 1897 to £615,000, 
while provision made in a subsequent measure for the reUef of neces- 
sitious Board schools was calculated at about £100,000 a year. liberals 
demanded the maintenance of equality between the two systems as 
established in 1870. 'We are removing inequalities,' replied Mr. 
Chamberlain, and he defended the new gralSit as being necessary to 
save the voluntary schools from extinction. Sorrowing conmient on 
his change of attitude was made by the editor who published his early 
views on education in the FortnigMy. When the leader of the Noncon- 
formists attacked the Act of 1870 as unfair to them, no one could have 
foreseen that he would become the champion of the clergy and 
denounce it as unfair to the clerical party. As Mr. Morley said, 
he executed an exultant war dance over the grave of his dead self. 

The session of 1897 was chiefly Mr. Chamberlain's session. He was 
the centre of interest. Those who had declared that he was played 
out discovered to their sorrow that he remained the most potent force 
in politics. His aims and ambitions were revealed during the debates 
on the Workmen (Compensation for Accidents) Bill. Amid the occu- 
pations of his department and the distractions of the South African 
inquiry he found time and opportunity to promote this section of his 
social programme. Instead of retiring to his own room, as was his 
practice during the education controversies, he watched the progress 
of the Compensation Bill through the House of Commons, and although 
it was nominally in chaigeof the Home Secretary, its real sponsor and 
guide proved to be the Secretary for the Colonies. ' Is not the hand of 
Joab with thee in all this ? ' asked a mocking Conservative. 

Unlike previous projects for compensation, Mr. Chamberlain con- 
tended that the new measure was based upon the principle of relieving 
the workman, and not of punishing the employer ; and he held that 
although undoubtedly it would in the first instance impose a new lia- 
bility the employer would be able to distribute the liability over the 



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224 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

trade in which he was engaged. The pecuniary burden of the accident 
would, he argued, fall as a first charge upon the industry itself, and not 
upon the victim of the accident. In his effort to educate or conciliate 
doubting &)nservatives he told them it was natural that a bill of this 
kind should come from them. He recalled that when he stood for 
Sheffield in 1874 he pointed out to his Liberal friends that they were 
most backward in social legislation, and that aU such reform had been 
initiated and to a large extent enacted by the Tory party. ' I said 
that in 1874, and I say it in 1897.' All Tories were not so gratified or 
convinced by this record as they might have been. The Compensation 
Bill was opposed by a section, which, although small, was not without 
influence. 

This was the most important measure of a contentious character 
which Mr. Chamberlain carried through the House of Commons. His 
critics were accustomed to say that faults of temper, and too much 
insistence on the grievance to be remedied, would prevent his success 
in piloting a difficult bill — ^that he would not suffer fools gladly. On 
this occasion he falsified the prediction. ' His personal courtesy ' — 
runs a note made at the time — ' has been as consfMcuous as his adroit- 
ness, and in spite of many temptations he has avoided any display of 
irritation. It is altogether due to his abiUty and influence that sudi a 
bill should have been accepted by his allies.' 

The bill was described by some of his Conservative friends as part 
of the price that they had to pay for the immense assistance he ren- 
dered to them. Lord Londonderry grudged the price. He resented 
the domination of one ' whose Radical views on home politics were 
always regarded with disapproval,' and complained that the bill was a 
departure from the policy of the Unionists at the General Election, and 
when the Marquis of Salisbury said that Mr. Chamberlain was ' the 
spokesman of our party on this subject,' he looked up the memorable 
speech in which the Marquis had expressed surprise that Lord Harting- 
ton and Lord Granville should sit in the same Cabinet with the member 
for Birmingham. This was an ordeal to which Lord Londonderry 
himself subsequently submitted, but in his vexation he turned the 
taunt against the statesman who had used it. Another man of property 
sarcastically observed that although the Colonial Secretary had not 
annexed Johannesburg he had annexed the Conservative party. There 
was a controversy on his position, at the close of the session of 1897, in 
the Conservative oigan, the St, /am^'sGaja:^^, and the writers made it 
clear that his chief recommendation to his new associates was his 
imperialism ; for the sake of this his domestic politics were tolerated. 

The coalition proved so gratifying to the Liberal Unionists that they 
ceased to regret their separation from the Gladstonians, and began to 
wonder how they should ever have associated with such fellows. 



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'THE HAND OF JOAB' 225 

' There is/ said their leader, ' a great gulf fixed which we cannot pass- 
over, and the gulf extends to foreign poUcy and to domestic policy 
as well.' On the other hand, he boasted of the completeness of the 
new coalition. The mixing of the two sections under Lord Salisbury 
had been compared to the mixing of oil and water. ' No/ remarked 
Mr. Chamberlain, ' we are rather like what occurs in a trade in which a 
blend is made ; when two vintages are combined to the great advan-^ 
tage of both. ' There was, apparently, a closer conmiingling of elements 
in the Unionist Government than in the Liberal Cabinets in which he 
sat, and as the coalition advanced in age the old Radical became more 
and more conscious of the political virtues of his allies. With unction- 
he informed the Conservatives in 1898 that they ' had been in a special 
sense the great apostles of social reform. Who was their leader ? It 
was Mr. DisraeU who laid the seeds of his doctrine in his great novel of 
Sybil} Though he found his party slow to educate, yet they made 
such progress under his guidance and under the subsequent guidance 
of Lord Randolph ChurchiU and others, that they had now arrived at 
a position in which they may fairly claim that it is to their efforts and 
to their legislation that the great social reforms now impressed upon 
the statute book of this country are due.' 

Notwithstanding their different temperaments and tendenices Lord 
Salisbury and Mr. Chamberlain acted together with less friction than 
had been expected. For the sake of the objects on which they 
were agreed both buried or concealed certain prejudices. Recalling, 
in November, 1899, their former relations, Mr. Chamberlain jocularly 
said that Lord Salisbury had called him Jack Cade, but he always 
thought Jack Cade was a much misunderstood person ! On the other 
hand, he had said many disagreeable things about Lord Salisbury. 
(Perhaps that was a consolation.) ' But,' he continued, ' nothing^ 
that he said of me, and nothing that I ever said of him, ever prevented 
our co-operating cordially upon what fortunately we were both able 
to believe was for the interests of the nation. When we came together 
to look at the merits of some of those propositions, which otherwise 
might have been the subject of party criticism, we found that upon 
the merits we were entirely agreed.* 

Even with this agreement, however, the product of social legislation 
in the Parliament of 1895 was small. His experience in the 
case of the Compensation for Accidents Bill did not encourage the 
reforming partner in the Downing Street firm to push other reforms- 
which were distasteful to Tories, and as the years passed he was con- 

* This was the leader who, according to Mr. Chamberlain in 1876, flung at 
the British Parliament the first lie that entered his head and exhibited his cynical 
contempt for the honour of England — ^the leader of a Ministry which, as he- 
declared in 1880, ' never said the thing they meant and never did a wise one.' 

15 



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1226 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

-strained to give up to South Africa a great deal of what was intended 
for home. Moreover, Irish Land Purchase and Irish Local Govern- 
ment consumed much time and legislative energy. It was not until 
1899 that the Ministers proceeded with the Small Houses Bill which 
their spokesman had promised at the General Election. This measure 
empowered Local Authorities to advance money for enabling working 
men to purchase the houses in which they resided. Liberals pre- 
dicted that it would prove of little use, but Mr. Chamberlain, who had 
<:harge of it, made the most of an instalment of the social programme. 
His connexion with such legislation was, as a sacrcastic Tory observed, 
a remarkable extension of the duties of the Colonial Office. As a set 
off he acquiesced in silence, while his Tory colleagues did something for 
their special friends by reheving the clerical tithe-owner of the pay- 
ment of half the rates on the tithe. 

Old age pensions played a familiar part in the Parliament of 1895- 
1900. The question was reopened at frequent intervals, recriminations 
took place, promises and protests were made, inquiries were instituted, 
but there was no progress. Financial considerations were pleaded by 
Mr. Chamberlain as an excuse for delay, and the Friendly Societies also 
were held responsible. He hoped that something might be done before 
the end of that ParUament, but while he indulged in a vague hope his 
Transvaal policy was carrying affairs to the cataract in which old age 
programmes and other social schemes were dashed and destroyed. 

Foreign impressions of Mr. Chamberlain at a time when lids name 
had become known throughout the world, were interesting and inform- 
ing. During a visit to the United States in the autumn of 1898 he was 
greatly intei^dewed. That is to say, many attempts were made to 
interview him, and many reports of alleged conversations were pub- 
lished, although in some cases they showed more imagination than 
knowledge on the part of the writer. The New York Journal devoted 
a page to the celebrated English statesman and ' his famous monocle.' 
He is depicted in ten attitudes, in which the eye-glass pla}^ a part, and 
the jocular dialogue is entirely about the monocle. * How do you 
keep it on ? Did it ever drop without your will or knowledge ? Can 
you sneeze without taking it off ? ' These are among the questions 
to which the visitor replies, while he adjusts the monocle, or lets it fall 
on his ' yellow linen waistcoat over the fourth button.' ' A roimd 
;glass in a frame of gold, thin as a grandmother's wedding ring ' — ^that 
is the journalist's description of the eye-glass. 

French conmients were rather unsympathetic. A writer in a Paris 
newspaper in November, 1898, sneered at Mr. Chamberlain, not only 
as a renegade Radical but also as a sexagenarian dandy, and declared 
that his eye-glass was taken by his partisans for a cockade, and that 
his invariable orchid easily assumed the aspect of a plume. Even the 



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'THE HAND OF JOAB ' 227 

Parisian critics, however, agreed in describing him as the most influ- 
ential English statesman of the time. They professed to believe that 
what he said to-day his colleagues would think to-morrow ; and 
while Liberals at home asserted that the Tory party had captured 
him, one of the joumaUsts on the other side of the Channel remarked 
that he carried ' in the pocket of his correct frock-coat the powerful 
and corpulent Marquis of Salisbury.' In an interesting volume pub- 
lished in Paris in 1899 he is described as an intelligent and audacious 
politician ; and the author declares that after having hoped twelve 
years previously to become the leader of the Liberal party he now 
aspired to the direction of the Conservatives. ' He makes advances 
to the Tories; he shows himself more and more moderate in his 
projects of social legislation ; he speaks no more — he, the farouche 
Dissenter, of the separation of Church and State ; he constitutes 
himself the defender, the apologist of the House of Lords.' ^ 

* /. Chamberlain, by Achille Viallate. 



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XXXI 
STRUGGLE WITH KRUGER 

IF the statesmen who, on March 27, 1897, entertained Sk Alfred 
Mihierto dmner on his appointment to succeed Lord Rosmead as 
High Commissioner of South Africa, could have foreseen the part 
he was to play in the destiny of the empire, the vision of the future 
would have cast gloom on the banquet, and several of the faces which 
glowed with sympathy might have turned away in sorrow and sadness. 
Liberals as wdl as Unionists joined in the farewell tribute. An Oxford 
graduate who had risen from journalism through a private secretaryship 
to high appointments in the public service, to whom political leaders on 
both sides expressed their indebtedness. Sir Alfred Milner was dis- 
tinguished for tact and charm as well as for unusual ability. Lord 
Rosebery wrote that he had the union of intellect with fascination 
which makes men moimt high. A fitter agent, in the opinion of his 
entertainers, could not have been found for the part of a conciliator. 
His quick mind was to grasp the situation ; he was to cajole or con- 
vince President Kruger ; he was to subtly strengthen British supre- 
macy by obtaining redress of the Uitlanders' grievances. This was 
the conception of his mission and his future in the minds of friends, 
although a considerable section of financiers and — ^it was suspected — 
some persons in the ofi&cial world contemplated and desired a war. 

While Sir Alfred Milner began his work in South Africa, familiarizing 
himself with its tangled problems and with the feelings of the races, 
Mr. Chamberlain drew as much attention as possible at home through 
the Parliamentary inquiry to the complaints of the Johannesburg 
reformers whose cause had been prejudiced by the Raid. To preserve 
our positidn as the paramount Power, and to bring about a better state 
of feeUng between British and Dutch, were his declared objects. The 
Transvaal Government were suspicious, and increased their armaments. 
They denied our right to interfere, and the friends of the Boers in this 
country contended that instead of expecting them to make concessions 
to the British on the Rand, we should more thoroughly wipe from our 
hands the stain left by Dr. Jameson's armed incursion. At the begin- 
ning of 1898, in reply to a question in the House of Conunons, Mr. 
Chamberlain stated that Her Majesty's Government would continue to 
abstain from interference in the internal affairs of the Republic as 

228 



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STRUGGLE WITH KRUGER 229 

long as the terms of the Convention of 1882 were strictly observed. 
This was a double-edged answer, seeing that breaches of the Conven- 
tion were then being charged against the Transvaal. 

The year 1898 passed in peaceful conununications, and in Novem- 
ber Sir Alfred Milner came home for a consultation with the Colonial 
Secretary, who had been watching and waiting. In his absence the 
Acting High Commissioner was General Sir William Butler who had 
just been appointed to the conmiand at the Cape. Sir William Butler 
before leaving England had an interview with Mr. Chamberlain, and 
he has left in his Autobiography a vivid description of the ' eager, 
white, sharp, anxious, tight-drawn face which was leaning towards 
me over the office table.' Going out to South Africa in a very wary if 
not a suspicious frame of mind he was soon convinced that Mr. Rhodes 
and his henchmen, or ' the party of the Raid,' were trying to provoke 
a war by fanning into flame the embers of racial ill-feeling. In a 
dispatch written in January, 1899, he drew attention to influences which 
were at work with this object. A poUtical aspect was being given to 
the case of Edgar, a man of British nationality who had been shot 
by a policeman in Johannesburg, but Sir William Butler regarded it as 
an ordinary brawl and stated that the agitation was artifically 
engineered with the view to affect opinion at home. His dispatch, 
however, was read by Sir Alfred Milner, on the return of the latter to 
the Cape in February, with 'undisguised impatience.^ Whatever 
may have been arranged between the Colonial Secretary and the High 
Commissioner while the latter was home, diplomatic action soon after- 
wards became more urgent and imperative, if not really aggressive, in 
tone. The way was prepared for active measures by a petition which 
was forwarded to the Queen from over 21,000 of her subjects in the 
Transvaal complaining of oppression and unjust treatment, and of 
exclusion from the franchise. This was the beginning of a 
movement which did not halt till the sword was drawn. According to 
Sir William Butler the Colonial Office was ' nmning mad for war,' 
and it was possible that Mr. Chamberlain might ' Uve in history as 
Lord North lives, but without even the excuse of having a bad King to 
lead him on the road to ruin.' However this may be, public opinion 
at home was certainly in an inflanmiable condition. 

A dispatch from the High Commissioner in May, 1899, stirred 
the smouldering fire into a blaze. Sir Alfred Milner emphatically 
asserted the reality of the grievances alleged by the Uitlanders, the 
genuineness of the agitation for reform, and the necessity of securing 
political rights. ' The spectacle,' he wrote, ' of thousands of British 
subjects kept permanently in the position of helots, constantly chafing 
under undoubted grievances, .and, calling vainly to Her Majesty's 
* Sir William Butler : An Autobiography. 



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230 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Government for redress, does steadily undermine the influence of 
Great Britain and the respect for the British Government within the 
Queen's dominions/ This passage, composed in a style quite imusual 
in an official document, provoked passionate controversy. It was 
quoted by the forward party of Imperialists as proof of the urgent 
necessity of strong measures, and was denounced by many Liberals 
as an example of irresponsible and sensational journsdism. According 
to hostile critics, the journalist — ^who, by the way, was trained in the 
severe school of Mr. John Morley on the Pall Mall Gazette — ^had swal- 
lowed up the diplomatist and statesman. Sir Alfred Milner was 
undoubtedly a master of language and, as Sir William Butler recorded, 
he foresaw the effect of his words. The Colonial Secretary responded 
in thorough sympathy and prepared a dispatch insisting on reasonable 
concessions to the Uitlanders* just demands. This, however, was held 
back, pending the result of a conference between President Kruger 
and Sir Alfred Milner, who met at Bloemfontein on the last day of May. 

A section of the Cabinet was still reconunending patience and the 
High Commissioner himself may have desired that he should have an 
opportunity of seeing whether he could not settle matters by per3onal 
negotiation. No doubt of Mr. Chamberlain's sincerity was felt when 
he expressed the earnest hope that a satisfactory settlement would be 
arrived at. For a considerable time longer he believed that the 
Transvaal would yield to pressure. Unfortunately the two negotiators 
went to Bloemfontein with ideas and aims which were irreconcilable. 
Discussion turned mainly on the question of the franchise. President ^ 

Kruger proposed to refer all differences to the aribitration of a Foreign 
Power, but the High Conunissioner informed him that Her Majesty's 
Government would not consent to intervention in disputes between 
themselves and the South African Republic. The President's offers 
with regard to the franchise were considered altogether inadequate ; 
agreement proved impossible, and the Conference broke up without 
any result. • 

* A new situation had thus been created,' said Mr. Chamberlain in 
the House of Commons on June 8, and he added in an ominous tone 
that the dispatch which had been held back would now be communicated 
to the Government of the Republic. His conduct at this stage was 
watched by the rival parties at home with conflicting sentiments,^ 
but with equal vigilance. Questions were asked almost every day in 
Parliament, one section of members holding him back and another 
urging him forward, while the Boers with increasing suspicion continued 
to arm for a conflict for which we were making no adequate prepar- 
ation. Disregarding Sir William Butler's warnings our Government 
were expecting too much from a resolute attitude and a mere show of 
force. 






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STRUGGLE WITH KRUGER 231 

A strange incident, not disclosed till about five years later, took 
place sooli after the Bloemfontein Conference. On June 20 Mr. Cham- 
berlain wrote to ' My dear Campbell-Bannerman,' who had succeeded 
Sir WUiam Harcourt as leader of the Liberal party in the House of 
Commons, desiring a few minutes talk about the Transvaal. In the 
conversation which ensued he stated that the Government proposed to 
send out 10,000 men to South Africa and asked whether the Opposition 
would join in reconmiending that step to the House and the country. 
As Sir Henry (according to his record of the interview) expressed a 
little surprise the Colonial Secretary went on to say : * You need not 
be alarmed. There will be no fighting. We know that those fellows 
(the Boers) won't fight. We are playing a game of bluff.' When the 
incident was recalled, Mr. Chamberlain denied that he had any idea 
whatever of bluffing in the popular sense of the word, but he could 
not charge his memory with a contradiction of the phrase. Written 
words remained. Sir Henry, after consulting with colleagues, informed 
the Colonial Secretary by letter that he could not see his way to give 
any assiurance that the Opposition would be ready to acquiesce in any 
open military demonstration such as the dispatch of a force to the Cape. 
' We feel very strongly,' he added, ' that in so grave a matter the un-^ 
divided responsibility must rest with the Government.' Mr. Cham-^ 
berlain repUed, thanking him for his letter. ' I appreciate its spirit 
and do not quarrel with its conclusions.' Subsequently, on an occasion 
to be described at the proper place, he made these conclusions the 
matter of taunt and complaint. 

The new leader of the Opposition was under-estimated by the 
Unionist statesmen. They saw in him a good-natured, shrewd, canny, 
rich and — ^as it was supposed — rather lazy man of the world whose 
rise although steady had been very slow, who was fonder of French 
novels than of Blue-books and who was merely a stop-gap till destiny 
should decide between Lord Rosebery and Sir William Harcourt. His 
frank expression of unpopular opinions was regarded as evidence of 
unskilful leadership by politicians who did not foresee that a day would 
come when the country wotild give an unprecedented majority to the 
man of settled conviction and straightforward purpose. With his 
head held a little to the side, sometimes with a yawn on his broad, 
genial face, sometimes with a twinkle in his eye. Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman staunchly held his post during the obloquy of years. 

' I make not, but foresee,' says the soothsayer. Some suspicious 
observers believe that Mr. Chamberlain ' made ' the facts in the Trans- 
vaal crisis ; others think that he did not even foresee them. From the 
date of the ' helots ' dispatch events rushed swiftly. The Secretary 
of State entered a grave indictment against the Boers in a speech at 
Birmingham on June 26, when he complained of ' a menace to British 



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232 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

interests and a serious danger to our position as the paramount Power 
in South Africa.' In the course of fifteen years we had been four times 
on the verge of war with the Transvaal : in 1885, when the Warren 
expedition was carried out to stop encroachments over the border ; 
in 1894, in the time of the Liberal Administration, when President 
Kruger attempted forcibly to enlist British subjects, to tax them and 
to take their goods in support of his battles with the native tribes, 
although he refused to give them any representation or share in the 
government of the country ; in 1895, when the Cape Ministry asked 
our assistance, and promised their own co-operation in order to prevent 
the arbitrary action of the Transvaal in closing the roads to the passage 
of colonial merchandise ; and again in 1897, when we had to protest 
against the Alien Immigration Law, which was declared to be a distinct 
breach of the Convention. By an accumulation of grievances Mr. 
Chamberlain now prepared a case for war. He protested, however, 
that there was no one in the length and breadth of the land who desired 
to quarrel with the Transvaal Republic. 

Rumours of military preparations at home began to circulate 
early in July, and The Times announced that a force of 10,000 men 
was to be sent out. After many questions had been asked in the 
House of Commons members ascertained that this announcement 
had been made with the knowledge of the Secretary for War. The 
idea, as Mr. Chamberlain explained several years later, was to impress 
on the Boers the fact that we meant to pursue the matter to an end. 
In debate five weeks after the celebrated ' bluff ' interview, Sir Henry 
Campbell-Bannerman still declared that he could see nothing what- 
ever which furnished a case for armed intervention, but Mr. Chamber- 
lain raised the controversy far above franchise details, and treating it as 
a question of our predominance in South Africa, used language which 
even a Unionist critic described as a menace. He said the Govern- 
ment had taken up the cause of the Uitlanders and were ' boimd to 
see it through,' and while they intended to exhaust conciliatory 
methods, they would not tie their hands by any pledge as to ulterior 
measures. Language of similar portent was used at the same time 
by Lord Salisbury. Even at this date, however, the Minister most 
directly responsible declared he was hopeful of a settlement, and the 
press, as a rule, counselled prudence. 

The prospect darkened on the last day of the session, August 9. 
Provoked by a Nationalist who spoke in S)mipathy with the Boers^ 
Mr. Chamberlain addressed to them a plainer threat than he had 
hitherto given. * We say that our predominance is menaced by the 
action of the Transvaal in refusing to redress grievances, and in refus- 
ing even any consideration of the requests made in moderate language 
by the suzerain Power. This is a state of things which cannot longer 



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STRUGGLE WITH KRUGER 233 

be tolerated. We have stated that we have put our hands to the 
plough, and we will not draw back.' The danger of such a declaration 
was obvious to everybody, and yet observers noted that it was cheered 
in a marked manner by other Ministers on the Treasury bench. Mem- 
bers of Parliament separated with forebodings as to the future, but 
still the hope was expressed that peace would be preserved. New 
franchise regulations had been offered by the Transvaal Government ; 
Mr. Chamberlain had proposed a Joint Committee of Inquiry with 
reference to the effect of the concessions; alternative proposals 
came from Pretoria, negotiations were carried on by the High Com- 
missioner, and an answer sent from Downing Street on August 16 
was regarded as a qualified acceptance. It was believed that in 
view of his expressed horror of a racial war the Colonial Secretary 
would resort to every expedient to secure an honourable pacific 
arrangement. 

From a political picnic at Highbury, on August 26, however, the 
Minister who was then free from the control of Parliament sent forth 
a challenge which resoimded through the world. He and his wife 
strolled down to a field and during a break in the sports he delivered 
a speech in which he reverted to those picturesque phrases of the new 
diplomacy which had startled the adherents of the older school. ' Mr. 
Kruger procrastinates in his reply. He dribbles out reforms like 
water from a squeezed sponge. . . . The issues of peace and of war 
are in the hands of President Kruger and his advisers. . . . Will he 
speak the necessary words? The sands are running down in the 
glass.' On being denoimced for this language, the Colonial Secretary 
explained that it was intended not to be provocative but to be plain, 
and when he was reminded of it when the war was over he stated 
that he adopted the metaphor of the sandglass on the spur of the 
moment as an illustration which he did not mean to be offensive. It 
was, however, regarded as provocative at the time it was uttered, 
and while the plainness of the picnic speech was quite imderstood at 
Pretoria it failed to frighten the Boers. 

The controversy on the franchise reads now as if it were a mere 
pretext to conceal a deeper cause of quarrel. In almost every dispatch 
allusion was introduced to the suzerainty. President Kruger tried 
to obtain a practical abandonment of the suzerainty and on the other 
hand Mr. Chamberlain paraded it — as his opponents held — ^with a 
challenging persistency. While the Boers' were pretending to be 
alarmed for their independence, we were expressing fear for our posi- 
tion in South Africa. Mr. Chamberlain's suggestion that a conference 
between the President and the High Commissioner should take place 
at Capetown, and that various matters of difference besides the fitm- 
chise should receive consideration, drew a stiff reply from Pretoria. 



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234 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Ministers were brought back from their holiday resorts to a Cabinet 
Council on September 8 ; an intimation was sent to the Transvaal 
that in a certain contingency Her Majesty's Government would 
formulate their own proposals ; after the Boer reply they met again, 
on September 22, and they were ' now compelled to consider the 
matter afresh, and to formulate their own proposals for the settle- 
ment of the issues which had been created in South Africa by the 
policy constantly followed during many years by the Government of 
the South African Republic' No sign of yielding being given at 
Pretoria the Cabinet assembled for its final decision on the 29th. 

A crowd of spectators, as at every political crisis, watched the 
arrival of the Ministers at Downing Street. It was recorded that Mr. 
Chamberlain * betrayed no signs of anxiety as he alertly jumped from a 
cab, puffing a big cigar. His manner indicated the absence of any fears 
in the world ; an orchid adorned his coat and the inevitable eyeglass 
was in position. He was greeted with hearty cheering, and this 
was repeated when, with a red dispatch-box in his hand, he entered 
the Colonial Office.' At the fateful meeting the Government 
agreed to the draft of the dispatch embodying their final proposals ; 
it was announced that Parliament would be sununoned shortly ; 
and on October 7 a proclamation was issued calling out the reserves. 
The threatened proposals never saw the light. They were superseded 
by events. If the Government were still engaged in bluff, the risky 
game failed. On October 9 the Boers issued an ultimatum which 
rendered war inevitable. President Kruger. with his powder dry, 
appealed to the God of Battles. And ' with all reverence and gravity ' 
— declared his chief antagonist — ' we accept the appeal, believing that 
we have our quarrel just.' 

When Mr. Chamberlain entered the House of Commons at the 
meeting of Parliament on October 17 he was greeted by the Unionists 
with a loud, prolonged cheer. Many of them cordially and even 
effusively shook hands with him. In certain circles the war was 
popular. On the other hand, charges of provocation and reckless- 
ness were brought against the Colonial Secretary by political opponents, 
and henceforth the most bitter recriminations of his life chequered 
his career. Sir William Harcourt complained on the earliest oppor- 
tunity of his exasperating notes and irritating utterances, and parti- 
cularly of his speech at the picnic. Emphatic assertion, however, 
was made by Mr. Chamberlain of his peaceful intentions. On the 
19th he spoke for two hours and three-quarters with great energy and 
vigour ; and it was noted as a feat of physical endurance that he tasted 
not a sip of water or wine, nor required any other refreshment. He 
declared that from the first day he came into office he strove for 
peace, and that down even to the most recent period he believed in 



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STRUGGLE WITH KRUGER 235 

it. He admitted that when the Boer ultimatum was issued the 
Government were endeavouring to strengthen their forces in South 
Africa, but he said they expected when this had been done to have 
resumed negotiations with a better chance of success. ' We never 
contemplated taking the offensive.' This assurance he repeated on 
many occasions, and months after the outbreak of hostilities he con- 
tinued to declare ' we hoped for peace almost to the very end.' 

Responsibility for the war was attributed to the Colonial Secretary 
by his opponents. Their leader contended that it was the natural 
result of his persistent policy, and Sir William Harcourt on every 
occasion expressed the opinion that it might have been avoided by 
different diplomacy. On the other hand, after it broke out Mr. 
Chamberlain and his colleagues asserted that it had been inevitable. 
Thereupon they were charged with a want of foresight. Why, if 
war was inevitable, did they go on professing their belief in peace ; 
why did they not take military precautions ; why did they allow 
their diplomacy to run so fast ? The answer was that the inevitability 
of the war was revealed only by the ultimatum and the armed effi- 
ciency of the Boers. It was then, and only then seen, according to 
the Unionists, that the Transvaal had been preparing to challenge 
our position in South Africa, and that the struggle for the paramountcy 
was bound to come. 

Disasters in the field gave point to the indictment for want of 
energy, foresight and judgment, which was brought against the 
Government early in 1900. The argument in the keen, protracted 
controversy might be sunmied up as follows — 

Unionists — The war was the result of the Boer ultimatum. 

Liberals — The ultimatum was the reply to the calling out of the reserves. 

Unionists — The war was inevitable. 

Liberals — Then why did you not prepare for it ? 

Unionists — Because we hoped till the very end for peace. 

Liberals — Therefore, according to your own discovery, you mistook the 
situation. 

Unionists — It was a natural and unavoidable mistake : we could not have 
known that the Boers were determined to challenge our supremacy by force of 
arms. 

Liberals — But why did you threaten a war-like race when your force in 
South Africa was inadequate ? 

Unionists — Our conduct showed we desired to exhaust every means of 
maintaining peace. Moreover, your own leader declared that there was no 
necessity, for warlike preparations. 

Liberals — What we said was that there was no case for armed intervention. 
If you believed that there was a case for armed intervention, you ought to have 
prepared for it. 

Thus recrimination went on at home while Lord Roberts and 
Lord Kitchener, who were sent out after others had failed, were 
reorganizing the forces in South Africa. Mr. Chamberlain for a time 
showed signs of worry in his appearance. His face lost the youthful 



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236 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

look which it had maintained so long, and his hair revealed threads 
of grey. But he never abandoned confidence nor wavered in deter- 
mination. Debate on February 5 took the form of almost a personal 
attack. Sir William Harcourt taunted him with having formerly been 
' the protagonist and champion ' of the policy of Boer independence. 
' You have no right to say that,' he exclaimed; but Sir William in- 
sisted on telling the House that Mr. Chamberlain was selected to 
state the policy of the Liberal Government in 1881, because he was 
so earnest a believer in retrocession. When he replied to his critics 
not a seat was empty ; and peers, crowded out of their gallery, stood 
at the top of their staircase for an hour. His defence was flamboyant, 
but expressed the proud spirit of the country. * What other nation 
in. the world ? ' was the refrain of a series of his sentences. Abandon- 
ing early illusions, he made a ' never again ' declaration which became 
familiar in controversy — 

Speaking for the Government, I say that so far as in us lies there shall be no 
second Majuba. Never again with our consent, while we have the power, shaU 
the Boers be able to erect in the heart of South Africa a citadel from whence 
proceed disaffection and race animosities. Never again shall they be able to 
endanger the paramountcy of Great Britain. Never again shall they be able to 
treat an Englishman as if he belonged to an inferior race. 

No confession of error in diplomacy or policy could be dragged 
from Mr. Chamberlain. His dispatches and speeches were in vain 
raised up against him as a reproach. ' What would he not give for 
the chance of editing them to-day ? ' asked Mr. Asquith. ' I would 
not alter a word,' defiantly answered the imrepentant Minister, 
whereupon Mr. Asquith retorted that if he were in his place he would 
give a great deal to have the chance of erasing an epithet here and 
expunging a metaphor there. The old story of the Raid was revived on 
February 20 and another attempt made by the Radicals to discredit the 
statesman to whom there was so much personal antagonism. A 
great deal was said about suspicion. Insinuations were scattered 
through speeches, and a dignified Conservative complained that 
personal rancour was the motive of the debate. Mr. Chamberlain 
replied with passionate feeling, treating the attack as part of a con- 
spiracy against his own reputation. As usual he defied his assailants. 
* Let them do their worst,' he cried, as he flung forth his arms with a 
challenge to the world. So far as the Raid was concerned Sir William 
Harcourt dissociated himself from the imputations cast on him by 
others. Sir William's theory was that Mr. Rhodes and his agents 
had endeavoured to cover their own guilt by asserting the complicity 
of the Colonial Of&ce. 

Although there was a loss of Government prestige, which Mr. 
Chamberlain shared, during the military defeats, the victories which 



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STRUGGLE WITH KRUGER 237 

were secured when Lord Roberts took the field speedily restored the 
popularity of the Ministers and strengthened the martial sentiment 
in the coimtry. All who opposed the war policy were denoimced 
as pro-Boers. A considerable section of the Opposition did what 
was possible to prevent it from being turned into a party issue. While 
complaining of the manner in which the negotiations had been con- 
ducted, and also of the military unpreparedness, they concurred in 
describing the war as just ; and with few exceptions the Liberals 
agreed in voting the necessary supplies. Mr. Chamberlain con- 
tended, however, that the sympathy of the ' pro-Boers ' increased our 
difficulties and prolonged the struggle. Now that it was in progress 
he treated it with a lighter heart than he had shown in 1896, when he 
said such a conflict would leave behind it embers which generations 
would hardly be long enough to distinguish. On being reminded 
of this prediction, he said in July, 1900, that with greater knowledge 
he was more hopeful. ' Now that the misunderstanding of the 
English character and the English power had been removed by the 
war, the probability was that after a short time the Boers would settle 
down to a condition of things in which certainly they would not have 
anything to complain of.' By this time the enemy had been driven 
back beyond our frontiers, and we had occupied their capitals, but 
when a section of Radicals pressed for a settlement on the ground 
that we had established our supremacy, the Government insisted on 
submission, and the popular feeling in England was on the side of 
the Ministerial policy. 

There were Jingo processions and manifestations in the streets; 
Mr. Rudyard Kipling's plea for the soldier, 'The Absent-minded 
Beggar,' was vociferously applauded in music-halls; Lord Roberts 
and Mr. Chamberlain were the national heroes, and a stop-the-war 
meeting could scarcely be held with safety. A new word was added 
to the language by the revelry which took place in London on May 19 
in honour of the relief of the long-besieged and gallant little Mafeking. 
From morning till midnight crowds paraded some of the great thor- 
oughfares. Scarcely any business was done in the City, and not 
much shopping anywhere. The only thriving trade was in red, white 
and blue. Even City men and smart young women carried little flags. 
Once in their lives they threw reserve to the winds and joined in public 
jollity. Everybody and everything displayed the national colours — 
houses, horses, dogs, omnibuses, cycles, whips, men, women and 
children ; and when banners went out of fashion or out of stock, the 
yoimg folk carried tri-coloured windmills and peacocks' feathers. 
There were ties, handkerchiefs and cockades in red, white and blue, 
and grave citizens paraded their patriotism by thus adorning their 
silk hats. The noisy demonstration was joined in by all classes — by 



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238 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

dubmen and costers, by East and West. Stockbrokers and clerks, 
assembled in front of the Mansion House, sang khaki songs; the 
•crowd between the Bank and Piccadilly grew as the day advanced ; 
all sorts of musical instruments were used to vary the shouting, singing 
and cheering ; kissing became promiscuous ; and yoimg men of fashion 
danced in the streets with flower girls. This was ' mafficking.' It 
was repeated when Pretoria was captured in Jime ; and Mr. Chamber- 
lain was the idol. Thousands of handkerchiefs and banners displayed 
his photograph. 

A brief interlude in the war controversies was provided in 1900 
by the Bill for Australian federation. It raised delicate questions 
between the Colonial delegates and the Government ; and their 
settlement — as Mr. Asquith said — reflected equal honour on both 
parties. Even Mr. Healy declared that Mr. Chamberlain's action 
in connexion with it showed * a great deal of genius.' Such praise 
from such a critic was praise indeed. It was a pleasant relief for a 
moment, though only for a moment, from the tornado of contention 
and acrimony. 

To foreign criticism on the war the Colonial Secretary replied 
with a proud defiance which expressed the national feeling. He foimd 
consolation for his country in the words of B3Ton that — 

He who surpasses or subdues mankind 
Must look down on the hate of those below. 

A dangerous, although a natural, sentiment in international contro- 
versy, it was applauded most noisily by those who felt most keenly 
the himiiliation of the early reverses which success had failed to 
obliterate from the memory. 



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XXXII 
THE KHAKI ELECTION 

IN the autumn of 1900, soon after the annexation of the Transvaal 
and the flight of Mr. Kruger, when the war feeling was enthusiastic 
and the khaki uniform excited strong emotion, the Government 
appealed to the coimtry at a General Election. They were denounced 
very hotly by Liberals in the parliamentary debates which preceded 
the dissolution for taking advantage of a patriotic sentiment and the 
anger which their tactics aroused was increased by the manner in 
which they tried to expose their opponents to odium. ' You may 
call us pro-Boers ; you may call us traitors/ scornfully said Sir Wilfrid 
Lawson as he took solace in Lowell's lines — 

Call me coward, call me traiter. 
Just ez suits your mean idees ; 
Here I stand a tyrant-hater. 
An* the friend o' God an* Peace I 

All, however, who opposed the Ministerial policy were not so indiffer- 
ent as Sir Wilfrid to what they considered misrepresentation. Liberals 
whose sons and brothers were fighting against the Boers naturally 
resented the suggestion that they were less patriotic than other 
politicians, and there was on the Opposition side a feeling of passionate 
annoyance at the khaki uniform being treated as a sort of party 
symbol. 

Mr. Chamberlain, who was shrewdly suspected to be the inspirer of 
the Election, incurred special opprobrium by his method of conduct- 
ing it. He was likened by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman to Paul 
Pry for making use of private letters from three Liberal members 
which had been found in the Boer archives. To these documents 
he alluded in the closing days of the expiring Parliament, and copies 
were sent to the writers with an inquiry as to whether they had any 
observations or explanations to offer. Mr. Labouchere, anticipating 
official action, printed the letters he had written to the agent for the 
Transvaal during the negotiations which preceded the war, and 
much amusement was caused by his remark in one of them that Mr. 
Kruger had ' a great opportunity to give Joe another fall.' The 
letters of the three members were issued as a parliamentary paper 
and did some prejudice to the Liberal cause. 

239 



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240 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Credit for the dose of the war was claimed by the Unionists. They 
relied on Lord Roberts's statement that it was practically over. ' We 
have reached the final stage in a great war,' wrote Mr. Chamberlain 
in his address to the electors of West Birmingham. ' Now that the 
war is over/ he said at Coventry on October i. Subsequently, 
after it had been continued through many weary and anxious months 
and he was reproached with having mided the country, he pleaded 
that when the Transvaal was formally annexed the Government 
thought the struggle was practically at an end. It was on this assump- 
tion that he and his colleagues appealed to the country. His view 
of the principal issues of the election was presented adroitly and clearly. 
* They are,' as he wrote to a candidate, * the merits of the war and the 
nature of the settlement which is to insure us against any recurrence 
of the danger to our possessions in South Africa, and to the prestige 
of the empire at large, which we have lately had to encounter. At 
such a time I feel certain that you will have the support of every 
Unionist and of all patriotic Liberals who place the good of the country 
above any partisan interests.' 

' A seat lost to the Government is a seat sold to the Boers.' A tele- 
gram from Mr. Chamberlain with these words became the battle-cry. 
It provoked indignant protests from Liberals, and the dectioneerer 
explained that the words he used were the words of the mayor of 
Mafeking : ' a seat lost to the Government is a seat gained by the 
Boers,' and that ' sold to ' the Boers was a tdegraphic error for which 
he received an apology from the Post Office.^ The message in its 
most pungent form was not too strong for the khaki candidates wha 
made effective use of it in appealing to the patriotic fervour of the 
dectors. They tried to ignore every issue except the questions con- 
nected with the war. Their contention was that the Unionist Govern- 
ment alone could be trusted to carry it through and secure a * never 
again ' settlement ; and in defence of the dissolution being taken at 
such a crisis it was asserted that the Liberals were not agreed as to 
the justice of the war, and that a dear dedsion by the country was 
necessary in order that its fruits might be gathered. 

Complete renunciation of his early views was made at this period 
by Mr. Chamberlain. A year previously on being reminded that he 
was a member of the Cabinet which agreed to the Convention after 
Majuba, he said, ' I am not certain that I was right. ' Now he became 
certain that he was wrong. Speaking at Birmingham on September 
23, 1900, he referred to the events of 1881 — ' What happens! then ? 
I was in the Government — I had only just entered it, but I was in 

^ The telegram, addressed to the Bury Guardian, was handed in by Mr. Cham- 
berlain's private secretary at a suburban office in Birmingham, and a facsimile 
of the message as he wrote it was published after the election. 



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THE KHAKI ELECTION 241 

the Government which gave back the independence of the Transvaal 
after Majuba. It was a disastrous mistake.' When Mr. Chamberlain 
said he had only just entered the Government in 1881 he must have 
meant that he had not been in an earlier Administration. So far as 
that Government was concerned, he had been in it from its formation. 
He based his complete change of view in 1900 on the discovery that 
the object of the Boers was to get rid of the British power in South 
Africa, but his repudiation of a policy of which he had been the most 
eloquent champion added bitterness to the reproaches of Liberals. 

Braggadocio and vanity were attributed to him by his leading op- 
ponents. Sir William Harcourt, who was never better pleased with him- 
self than when chafhng his friend, said that in regard to our relations 
with the colonies Mr. Chamberlain seemed to entertain the conviction 
that he was Captain Cook and General Wolfe rolled into one and 
that he had discovered Australia and stormed the heights of Quebec. 
His language was compared to that of Sir Anthony Absolute in The 
Rivals. He ' was intoxicated by his own vanity ' ; and ' he became 
worse every day. He fancied he was everybody and had done every- 
thing.' In a bitter tone Sir William tatmted him with having gone 
out of the social- progress business and devoted himself to the pursuit 
of war. Mr. Chamberlain repUed that they had not done with old 
age pensions. ' I am not dead yet,' he cried. It was, however, on 
the war issue that, meanwhile, he concentrated attention. 

Another election was thus won, chiefly by the efforts of Mr. Cham- 
berlain, for his friends and Tory aUies. He was the inspiring force 
in the contest, as he had been in others. He threw hiniself into it 
with as much zeal and vigour as he showed in previous appeals to 
the country, speaking almost every night for three weeks in the Mid- 
lands, and again giving an impulse to the whole Unionist party. The 
khaki cry was used irresistibly. The coalition began a second lease 
of power with a majority of 134. 

Very angry feeling was displayed by the new Parliament, which 
met in December, 1900. Liberals were greatly irritated by the manner 
in which the election had been conducted, by the misrepresentation 
of opponents of the Government as ' little Englanders ' and ' friends 
of every country but their own,' and by the unauthorized publication 
of private letters. Against this proceeding Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman hotly protested. A similar act in private Ufe, he said, 
would exclude a man from honoiu-able society. ' I deeply regret,' 
retorted Mr. Chamberlain, ' that I am cut off from the society of 
the right honourable gentlemen — ^which I never enjoyed.' Wounds 
caused by such hasty words left scars. 

Another practice of which Liberals complained was the continued 
use of the phrase ' pro-Boer.' In February, 190 1, Sir Robert Reid, 

16 



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242 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

the future Lord Chancellor, resented its employment by the Colonial 
Secretary as very offensive. * Then I willingly withdraw it/ said 
Mr. Chamberlain. He could not, however, give it up altogether. It 
was in his opinion an apt description of some of his opponents. When 
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman denounced the school of parUamen- 
tary manners in which he wascalledapro-Boer the leader of that school 
defended it. Alluding to the imaginary person who thought that 
the Boers were always right and that his own country was always 
wrong, Mr. Chamberlain said : ' To my mind such a man is a pro-Boer 
and, despite the objection of the right honourable gentleman, I for 
one shall continue to call him so.' 

Certain prominent Liberals declined to meet Mr. Chamberlain for 
some time after the election at any social function. Queen Victoria, 
however, received him at Osborne, and the Prince of Wales attended 
a non-political banquet ovct which he presided. Mr. Asquith, who 
gave a general support to the war, although he disapproved of much 
that the Government had done and of what they had left undone 
before it became inevitable, was Mr. Chamberlain's fellow guest 
at Chatsworth, ere the scars left by the election controversies had 
been healed, but the relations between the minister and most of the 
occupants of the front Opposition bench were for a considerable 
period very strained. 

A ' dreary flow of petty malignity ' was complained of by Mr. 
Chamberlain. How far he gave provocation was a question on which 
partisans could not agree. Liberals considered that he had hit below 
the belt and that his conduct was unworthy of a gentleman. He in 
turn spoke of a conspiracy of slander and of insinuation and was 
specially annoyed by the allegation that he was fattening on 
profits made out of a war which he had provoked — ^that he was 
doing so by his connection with companies and through relatives inter- 
ested in Government contracts. When he stated the facts in the 
House the bubble burst. He declared that he had never been asked to 
use, and had never used, his influence in order to secure pecuniary 
gain for himself or his relatives in any improper way ; and speaking 
with emotion, he made the boast recorded in the first chapter of this 
book that his family had ' an unbroken record, of nearly two centuries 
of unstained commercial integrity and honour.' General sym- 
pathy was felt with him in his personal vindication although Liberals 
laughed at Mr. Balfour's effusive statement that he never stood higher 
in the opinion of his countrymen than now. 

Another oft-t(ddtale was entirely discredited when repeated in the 
House. The tale was as follows : Mr. Alan de Tatton Egerton when 
out in South Africa had a conversation with Mr. Rhodes, who told him 
that Mr. Chamberlain was up to the neck in the Raid. When Mr. 



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THE KHAKI ELECTION 243 

Egerton came home he infonned the Prime Minister of what he had 
heard and afterwards at Lord Salisbury's request he repeated the 
statement in the hearing of Mr. Chamberlain, whose only comment upon 
it^was to cry ' Traitor ! Traitor ! Traitor ! ' This was the story which 
spread from the Lobby to the platform. Unfortunately for its life, an 
Irish member introduced it into debate. He told it in a dramatic 
manner. ' Absurd ! ' cried the Colonial Secretary, on hearing the 
story, and when he was challenged to give a denial, he declared that 
there was not a particle of truth in it. Little more was heard of the 
tale. 

Queen Victoria, a lover of peace, ended her reign while the black 
doud still lay over the land, and King Edward inherited a kingdom 
with a military and administrative reputation at stake. ' The war 
in South Africa has not yet entirely terminated,' said His Majesty in 
his first speech from the throne on February 14, igoi, a few weeks 
after Lord Roberts's return to England. During its continuance there 
was a constant quarrel between Liberal leaders and uncompromising 
Ministers. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannermann accused Mr. Chamber- 
lain of intolerable arrogance and the latter retorted by charging Sir 
Henry with intolerable folly and describing him as a poUtical wobbler, 
who had elevated the art to the level of an exact science. This was a 
specimen of the style of controversy which was conunon in the first 
year of the new reign. 

There were frequent debates not only on farm burning and concen- 
tration camps, but also on the means of terminating the war and on 
the terms which the victors were prepared to offer. Early in 1901 Mr. 
Chamberlain stated that on peace being obtained. His Majesty's advis* 
ers would be ready to grant some form of crown colony government, but 
he resolutely refused to promise self-government immediately, and 
as to independence ' it is no use arguing with us on the subject.' Nego- 
tiations in March between Lord Kitchener and General Botha were 
unsuccessful, and Mr. Chamberlain's intervention was considered by 
Liberals to have been the cause of their failure. He was charged with 
a policy of subjugation and extermination. On the other hand, he 
quoted the adniissions of Boer generals that they were fighting for 
their independence. 



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XXXIII 

MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S ASCENDENCY 

* ^^OU should be king/ cried a Nationalist to Mr. Chamberlain in 
I 1902. ' That is not my ambition/ he retorted with the airy 
confidence of the man who knows whither he is going and is sure of 
reaching the goal. Anti-war Liberals were uiging that the Colonial 
Secretary and Lord Milner, as the chief obstacles to peace, should be 
removed from their positions. ' How are you to do it ? ' asked the 
quizzing Lord Rosebery. In those days the Govenunent without Mr. 
Chamberlain would have been like the play of Hamlet without the 
Prince of Denmark. His ascendency was tmiversally recognized. 
Conservatives admitted that he was the strongest member of the 
Ministry as well as the most powerful politician in the country. 

In the House of Commons he was the pivot of controversy, and the 
observed of the least observant. When he entered members watched 
his movements, and strangers who had been languid and lotmging, 
became erect and eager, as if a new interest had come into their life, 
and when he went out the proceedings dwindled in interest. At rail- 
way stations and in Downing Street and the approaches to West- 
minster, men waited to cheer him as they had waited for the great Glad- 
stone. With a new lease of power, and with two new colonies to his 
credit, hope and ambition were revived in his eager, restless life. He 
looked almost as keen as he was twenty years previously, and his gait 
seemed as buo)rant and brisk. 

A quarrel with the German Chancellor increased his fame. He had 
expressed distrust of Russian diplomacy ; he had admonished France to 
mend her manners, and now he turned on the country for whose 
alliance he had pleaded. The quarrel sprang out of a reference to the 
Prussian army. Germans, as well as other foreign peoples, had tried 
the patience of Englishmen and Scotsmen by their insulting charges 
against our troops in South Africa, and Mr. Chamberlain, in stating 
that it might be necessary to adopt measures of greater severity in 
dealing with the Boers who were now carrying on guerilla warfare, said 
' if that time comes we can find precedents for an}^hing that we may 
do in the action of those nations who now criticise our " barbarity " 
and "cruelty," but whose example in Poland, in the Caucasus, in 

244 



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MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S ASCENDENCY 245 

Almeria, in Tongkong, in Bosnia, in the Franco-German War we have 
never even approached/ 

To this statement Count von Biilow replied at the opening of the 
Reichstag on January 8, 1902. In a lecturing tone he said that ' when 
a minister considers himself called upon to justify his policy, he does 
well to leave foreign countries out of the discussion. Should he, how- 
ever, wish to adduce examples from abroad, it is advisable that he 
should proceed with great caution, for otherwise he runs the risk, not 
only of being misunderstood, but also of hurting foreign feelings, even 
though it be — as I am ready to assume was the case in the present 
instance, and as indeed after assurances made to me from the other side, 
I must assume — ^without any intention of doing so.' The Chancelkn' 
remarked that the German army stood much too high — its escutcheon 
was too bright — ^for it to be affected by warped judgments. Anything 
of this kind, he added, was well answered by Frederick the Great when 
he was told that somebody had been attacking him and the Prussian 
army : ' Let the man alone and don't excite yourselves ; he is biting 
at granite.' 

It was contrary to Mr. Chamberlain's principles in political life to 
turn the cheek to the smiter. When struck, he always struck back. 
He had an opportunity within three da}^, at the Silversmiths' Dinner 
at Birmingham, of dealing with his German censor, and he made dra- 
matic use of the opportimity. His tone was defiant. ' What I have 
said, I have said.^ I withdraw nothing, and qualify nothing. I 
defend nothing. As I read history, no British Minister has ever served 
his country faithfully and at the same time enjoyed popularity abroad. 
... I do not want to give lessons to a foreign minister, and I will not 
accept any at his hands. I am responsible only to my own Sovereign 
and my own countrymen.' 

This bold answer resounded through the world. It was endorsed 
by many of the speaker's opponents at home. The doctrine that no 
British statesman who served his country faithfully enjoyed popular- 
ity abroad was a dangerous doctrine which in ordinary times would 
have shocked the moral instinct of the nation, but in those days when 
we were isolated and sensitive it was allowed to pass without much 
protest. People realized that a minister of the Crown had been un- 
justly attacked by a foreign ruler and had given a reply worthy of the 
national pride. * What I have said, I have said,' was the text of many 
bantering articles, but for a time it added to Mr. Chamberlain's prestige. 

As soon as Parliament met, questions were asked with reference to the 

' assurances ' which, according to Count von Biilow, had been offered 

to Germany. Mr. Balfour denied that any assurances had been asked 

for, but stated that in an unofficial conversation the Foreign Secretary 

^ Quod dixi, dixi (the motto of the Dixie fttmily). 



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246 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

pointed out to the ambassador that no charges of barbarity were 
brought against the German or any other army. He added that in the 
opinion of the Government, nothing required to be said in the direc- 
tion of either qualifying or withdrawing the Colonial Secretary's speech. 
Unionists greeted this declaration with a loud, emphatic cheer. Liber- 
als dreaded Mr. Chamberlain's excursions from his own sphere into that 
of foreign relations, but even Lord Rosebery, while deprecating his 
dialectics, admitted that his answer was ' a proper answer to give.' 

His popularity in the City of London was proved during a visit 
he paid to the Guildhall to receive an address from the Corporation 
a month after his quarrel with the German Chancellor. No statesman 
since the time of Lord Beaconsfield had excited so much enthusiasm 
in that Jingo centre. The dty was not particularly fond of Mr. 
Gladstone, and although it admired Lord Salisbury it was out of touch 
with his temperament. Nor was Mr. Balfour at this time quite its ideal ; 
he did not know enough about business, and did not thix)w sufficient 
glamour over his short-comings. On the other hand Mr. Chamberlain's 
methods as well as his maxims appealed to the men at the centre of the 
world's commerce, and nowhere was the war more heartily supported 
than in the region of the Mansion House and the Stock Exchange. 
His reception was royal. Men and women crowded the pavements and 
looked down from every window, and waved hats and handkerchiefs. 
In the Guildhall he was hailed with equal enthusiasm, and his q>eech 
was in the spirit of the time. 

In the numerous debates on the war in 1902, as a critic remarked, 
Mr. Chamberlain's ' incontestable ascendency bore down all before it 
by his moderation not less than by his energy.' Almost every week 
he was called on to justify some part of his policy. While ' a sort of 
war' — as Lord Chancellor Halsbury described the struggle — ^was 
carried on by the indomitable Boers, the Liberals exhorted the Govern- 
ment to make peace, and they expressed the opinion that it could be 
arranged on honourable terms. ' If the Boers wish for peace,' replied 
Lord Salisbury, ' let them come and tell us.' In the same temper Mr. 
Chamberlain declared that he would not receive representations from 
Kruger and his entourage then in Europe, nor from the perambulating 
Goverrmients in South Africa. He added, however, that he would not 
be deaf to any reasonable overtures which might come from a reason- 
able authority ; he disavowed a poUcy of extermination, and gave the 
assurance that when peace was restored a very large anmesty would 
be granted. Critics had prepared a terrible attack, but in the flattering 
judgment of Mr. Balfour, his speech ' knocked everybody out of time/ 
while a humbler admirer marvelled at 'the bitter and venomous 
aspersions aimed at the Colonial Secretary and the magnificent maimer 
in which he repelled them.' 



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MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S ASCENDENCY 247 

A visit of the Dutch Prime Minister to this country excited lively 
curiosity. As Lord Rosebery conjectured, he did not come to see the 
' old masters/ The Dutch Government, after feeling their way, in- 
quired whether we would make use of the good offices of a neutral 
Power in opening negotiations, and it was suggested that safe conducts 
should be granted to the Boer delegates who were in Europe to enable 
them to proceed to Sout}i Africa and confer with their generals in the 
field. His Majesty's advisers adhered to the decision expressed eariier 
in the war to decline the intervention of any foreign Power, and they 
pointed out that the quickest and most satisfactory plan would be for 
the hostile commanders to commimicate directly with Lord Kitchener. 
Agreeably to the wishes of the Liberal leaders, who had been urging 
that we should make our intentions known, the correspondence was 
sent to him with instructions to forward it to the Boer generals. Faci- 
lities were given for the latter to confer together, and subsequently for 
the commandoes to meet. Thus an opening was made for peace, but 
the deliberations of our gallant foes were protracted, and in the mean- 
time the * sort of war ' continued ; new contrivances for ending it were 
resorted to in the field and old controversies were revived with undi- 
minished violence in the House of Commons. 

Acrimony accompanied Mr. Chamberlain's appearance in debate on 
every topic. The greater his power and popularity grew the more 
persistent was the criticism of Ids opponents. Even on so safe a sub- 
ject as the dinner-hour in connection with new rules of procedure, 
passion was excited. ' I dine in the House,' remarked an Irishman in 
arguing that there was no necessity for a long adjoimmient. There- 
upon Mr. Chamberlain said there were members who found they could 
get a dinner in the House cheaper than anywhere else. (There was, in 
fact, a dinner of several courses for one shilling). His remark was re* 
sented as a gibe at poverty, and it provoked a furious outburst. ' Very- 
insolent ! ' screamed Mr. Dillon, but the offender protested that he had 
meant no discourtesy. A fearless cynic on his own side took occasion 
to hurl a personal gibe at him. Recalling that George IV. was said 
to be the first gentleman in Europe, Mr. Gibson Bowles remarked that 
Mr. Chamberlain was * imdoubtedly the first gentleman in Birming- 
ham.' 

A violent scene took place on March 20, in the course of a debate- 
in which the Colonial Secretary minimised the fear he formerly expres- 
sed that the war would leave racial ill-feeling behind it. He referred 
to a letter from Vilonel, a Boer general. * Vilonel is a traitor,' cried Mr. 
Dillon. A retort followed from Mr. Chamberlain like a flash. ' Ah ! '' 
he said, ' the honourable member is a good judge of traitors.' Amid 
uproar, the Nationalist appealed to the Speaker against this insinua- 
tion, but Mr. Gully refused to rule the words out of order. ' Then all L 



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248 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

have got to say/ shouted Mr. Dillon, ' is that the right honourable 
gentleman is a damned liar ! ' Naturally he was directed to withdraw 
so improper an expression. ' I cannot, ' he coolly replied amid the cheers 
of friends, and accordingly he was named and suspended. Mr. Cham- 
berlain waited till the incident closed. ' I was saying when I was inter- 
rupted, ' he began as he calmly resumed his speech. A couple of months 
later Lord Rosebery, remembering that he had been permitted to 
describe Mr. Dillon as a good judge of traitors, remarked in the same 
genial spirit that the member for West Birmingham was ' a good judge 
of recantation.' 

At last the Boers yielded. On Sunday, June i, the War Office 
which had for several years sent forth dismal tidings issued the joyful 
news that the document containing the terms of surrender had been 
signed at Pretoria. At St. Paul's the intimation was read from the 
pulpit after the sermon at the evening service. The faces of the con- 
gregation lit up with gratitude ; the hymn ' Now thank we all our 
God ' was sung solenmly, and after the benediction the vast congrega- 
tion joined in the National Anthem. Next day the whole country 
rejoiced. There was a renewal of ' mafficking ' in London, and so 
closely did the enthusiastic crowds press upon Mr. Chamberlain as he 
arriv^ at the Colonial Office that he had diifficulty in passing from his 
carriage. On the following Sunday King Edward and Queen Alexan- 
dra attended a thanksgiving service at St. Paul's which expressed the 
feelings of a united kingdom. It was with a sense of profound relief 
and gratitude that the people received the announcement of peace. 
They were not disposed to look too narrowly at the terms. The im- 
portant matter was that the Boers had surrendered ; and few, even of 
the Jingoes, regretted that in the conditions generosity was blended with 
justice. Mr. Chamberlain was at this point credited with statesman- 
ship by Radicals as well as by Unionists. 

One of the terms of the agreement was that military administration 
in the Transvaal and Orange River Colonies should at the earUest 
possible date be succeeded by civil government, and as soon as circum- 
stances permitted representative institutions leading up to self-govern- 
ment should be introduced.^ A sum of three millions was granted to 
assist in restoring the Boers to their homes. When their generals 
visited England a few months later they surprised the Colonial Secretary 
by the number and character of the subjects on which they wished a 
fresh conference. He received them only on the understanding that 
they would not raise any point inconsistent with the settlement of 
Pretoria. 

*• The Liberal Administration on obtaining power in 1906 decided to replace 
the then existing crown colony government by responsible government wi&out 
an intermediate stage. 



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XXXIV 
A NEW CHIEF 

ON July 7, 1902, Mr. Chamberlain was driving in a hansom along 
Whitehall when the horse fell near the Canadian arch erected 
in honour of King Edward's coronation, and being thrown violently 
against the glass screen, which came down, he received a deep scalp 
wound over his right temple. He was conveyed to Charing Cross 
Hospital where he remained two days. The wound kept him from 
his Parliamentary duties for three weeks and in the opinion of some 
of his friends the shock caused a permanent injury. 

By a strange destiny the most ambitious statesman in England 
was confined to his room when the Prime Ministership became vacant. 
The termination of the war was a fitting occasion for Lord Salisbury 
to lay down the burden of which, Uke a great ancestor, he had become 
very weary, but there had been a general expectation that he would 
bear it until the coronation. Much surprise was caused even in 
high Liberal Unionist quarters when he resigned a bare month before 
the splendid ceremony which took place on August 9. King Edward 
sent at once for the leader of the House of Commons, and forthwith 
Mr. Balfour called on the Colonial Secretary at Prince's Gardens. 
He was entitled to expect his support. Two years previously, at a 
banquet of the Liberal Union Club, Mr. Chamberlain said Mr. Balfour's 
colleagues found it a privilege to be associated with him, and would 
find it an honour to serve under him. Much, however, had happened 
since that assurance was given, and Mr. Chamberlain had become 
more powerful. 

A considerable section of the younger Conservatives as well as 
the Liberal Unionists might have preferred if Mr. Balfour had said 
to the older statesman : ' To you is the credit of our success, and to 
you must fall the reward.' That statesman himself may have felt 
that he had claims to the chief place. No indication, however, was 
given then, nor has been given since that Mr. Balfour repeated Lord 
Salisbury's offer to stand aside in favour of a Liberal Unionist col- 
league. Only one course in the circumstances was open to Mr. Cham- 
berlain. The support which he volimteered in 1900 he now undertook 
to render. 

To a meeting of the Unionist party held on July 14, three days 

249 



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250 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

aft^ Lord Salisbury's resignation, Mr. Austen Chamberlain conveyed 
from his father a message which was described as not only cordial 
but affectionate, stating ' with what pride and pleasure ' he would 
give all assistance in his power to the new Prime Minister. Mem- 
bers were convinced of the sincerity of the message, and it removed 
from some minds a doubt which had previously existed as to the 
prospects of the Cecil succession. The Duke of Devonshire, who 
might many years previously have filled the highest place, modestly 
and gratefully imdertook the leadership of the House of Lords, but 
Mr. Balfour lost the assistance not only of Lord James of Hereford, 
one of the most Liberal of the Unionists, but also of that staunch 
and experienced Conservative Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, who, as 
Parliament learned subsequently, had not received sufficient en- 
couragement in his policy as Chancellor of the Exchequer. A compli- 
ment was paid to the Colonial Secretary by the admission of the son of 
whom he was so proud to the Cabinet. 

He had sufficiently recovered from the cab accident to reappear 
in the House of Commons on July 29 for a colonial discussion. There 
was a long scar on his forehead, but a critic declared with satisfaction 
that the accident had not impaired his quahties of force, precision 
and lucidity. For the moment the hearts of his opponents were soft- 
ened, and his own heart responded to their warmth. His reception 
was remarkably cordial. Liberals as well as Unionists cheered him, 
both when he took his seat on the Treasury bench beside the new 
Prime Minister, and when he rose to answer a question ; and con- 
gratulations on his recovery were offered in the most kindly manner 
by the leader of the Opposition. Amid the applause of the whole 
House, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman expressed the great pleasure 
which members felt in seeing him again in his place. Mr. Chamberlain 
acknowledged the compliment with equal cordiality, and was so 
amiable as to say that the House honoured his antagonist as a strenuous 
partisan who never allowed political controversy to degenerate into 
personal animosity. 

Many of the observers familiar with Mr. Chamberlain's career 
believed that he was disappointed. Their belief was based on the 
assumption that ambition was his strongest motive, and also on a 
recognition of the imequalled services he had rendered to the Unionist 
party. Sincere as was his friendship for Mr. Balfour, doubt was felt 
as to whether he was satisfied with the elevation merely of his son. 
Admirers and followers whispered that he was the greats statesman 
and deserved the highest reward. Some of them thought that Mr. 
Balfour might at least have gone to the Upper House, and left to his 
colleague the leadership of the Commons. 

If those feelings w^e in Mr. Chamberlain's own breast he did not 



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A NEW CHIEF 251 

betray them in his public words. Compliments were exchanged by 
the two statesmen at a banquet in honour of the new Prime Minister 
at the Mansion House. ' I congratulate him from my heart/ said 
the Colonial Secretary, ' on the great position he has earned, which 
is deservedly his by his character and by his talents.' Mr. Chamber- 
lain's eulogies when given at all are not in the least stinted, and on 
this occasion he applied to his chief the flattering lines of Pope's 
epistle to Mr. Addison : — 

Statesman, yet Mend to truth 1 of soul sincere. 
In action faithful, and in honour clear ; 
Who broke no promise, serv'd no private end. 
Who gain'd no title, and who lost no Mend. 

It was difficult for Mr. Balfour to cap this compliment, but he proved 
equal to the emeigency. He declared that his colleague had done 
more for the British empire than any holder of his office had ever 
done before. 

The year 1902 was not an agreeable one for Mr. Chamberlain. 
Although his fame and power had reached the highest point he suffered 
taunts which were hard to bear on his support of the new com duty, 
with regard to which he could not yet disclose his ultimate aims ; 
and easily as he might bury his past it was a strain upon him to assent 
to an Education Bill wMch completed the clerical reaction. The 
giving of extra grants to the denominational schools was now to be 
supplemented by rate aid, and to effect this purpose in the first year 
of the new Prime Ministership, Parliament was summoned to sit late 
in the autumn. 'The time is coming,' said Mr. Chamberlain at 
this period, ' when the question of whether or not I continue in public 
life is a matter of absolute indifference to me.' Such language when 
used by a man of ardent, strenuous temperament, deepened the sus- 
picion that he was discontented with the new ministerial arrange- 
ments. 

It was again at Birmingham that he felt called on to justify his 
acquiescence in a measure which gave rate aid to voluntary schools, 
without complete control by the local authorities. He defended it 
on the ground that it established a central authority for both ele- 
mentary and secondary education, and that although the managers 
of voluntary schools would retain a majority on the Conmiittee the 
local authority would have in the last resort full control over the SA;M/af 
teaching. This plea did not by any means satisfy all his friends. Nor 
did it satisfy himself. Writing to the Duke of Devonshire on Septem- 
ber 22, 1902, Mr. Chamberlain said : — ' The political future seems 
to me — an optimist by profession — most gloomy. I told you that 
your Education Bill would destroy your own party. It has done so. 
Our best friends are leaving us by scores and hundbreds, and they will 



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252 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

not come back. I do not think that the Tories like the situation, 
but I suppose they will follow the Flag. The Liberal Unionists will 
not/i 

While he was thus protesting in private to a colleague the revolt 
among his Binningham friends became so serious that he was obliged 
to confront them with a threat. He warned them that if the Govern- 
ment were defeated on the Education Bill they would resign, and thus 
Ireland would be handed over to the Home Rulers, and the settlement 
in South Africa would be transferred to the Little Englanders f Such 
a prospect in those days blanched the cheeks of Unionists. It was a 
prospect at which he himself was appalled. 

The only logical alternative to the scheme of the Education Bill, 
according to Mr. Chamberlain was an absolutely secular system and 
he turned with despair from the idea of forcing upon the ratepayers 
the enormous cost of providing buildings and education for the children 
in voluntary schools. Moreover, he said that a revolution of this 
sort would make the compact between the Unionists impossible. 
The Education Bill had been adopted in the Cabinet while the war 
was luifinished and while he would have risked his reputation and 
his colonial policy by leaving office. Thus he was conunitted to it 
and publicly he made the best of it, but he never pretended to like 
it, and in his discontent he turned his mind to other projects. 

Less time was spent by Mr. Chamberlain in the House during 1902 
than in any year since he was elected a member. Except on colonial 
affairs, the minister who had been accused of too much interference 
spoke only once or twice. For his unusual conduct he offered an 
excuse. ' I have been,' he said, ' engaged in my own room working 
for hours on important questions which come to me for settlement 
from every part of the empire.' A critic might retort that in 1897, 
notwithstanding the delicate questions which arose out of the Raid 
and the Inquiry to which it led, he foimd time to carry the Compensa- 
tion for Accidents Bill, and that he piloted the Small Houses Bill in 
1899 when the most delicate and important negotiations were being 
carried on with President Kruger. 

In the autumn of 1902 he looked moody and irritable. On the 
rare occasions on which he was present in the House during debate 
on the Education Bill he sat far off from the ministers conducting 
it, sometimes with eyes closed, thinking his own thoughts. Attempts 
to draw him into controversy were made in vain. At his own time he 
would rise, draw a long breath, and hurry to his own work in his own 
room. Evidently he was brooding over some deep design. A well- 
known Unionist went about the Lobby whispering to Liberals, 
'What a mess we are making of it ! Isn't it time you fellows turned 
^ Lifs of the Duke of Devonshire, by Bernard Holland. 



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A NEW CHIEF 253 

us out ? ' Relief was obtained by Mr. Chamberlain in another manner. 

On October 27, the day of Khig Edward's state procession through 
London, a sensation was caused by the announcement that the Colonial 
Secretary intended to proceed on an official visit to South Africa* 
Politicians always ready to suspect his motives suggested that his 
primary object was to escape from the Education Bill. It was he 
himself, as Mr. Balfour stated, who conceived the idea of the mission. 

The only speech that he delivered in Parliament in connexion 
with the measure which excited the passionate hostility of the Non- 
conformists was on the motion to apply the closure to it by com- 
partments. Although he had warned the Duke of Devonshire that 
they were sowing the seeds of an agitation which would undoubtedly 
be successful in the long run, he boasted to the House of Conunons 
that he had not lost the support of his Birmingham friends. ' The 
idea,' he said, ' that because a great party on a complicated bill has 
displayed certain differences of opinion, there is the commencement 
of a revolt or mutiny, or that those who take a different view of the 
bill than themselves are about to join the Radical party, is utterly 
absurd to those who know the political life of Birmingham.' A 
fortnight later he set out for South Africa and left his new clerical 
allies fighting his old Nonconformist friends. He was thousands of 
miles away when the bill was passed. 



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XXXV 
THE ILLIMITABLE VELD 

THE Colonial Secretary's decision to visit South Africa and 
examine on the spot the problems which followed the war 
excited interest throughout the empire and was imreservedly com- 
mended by politicians at home. All were desirous to promote con- 
ciliation between Boer and Briton and to secure a settlement on a 
stable basis. Even the Jingoes who had been the keenest promoters 
of the forward policy were ready now to forgive the former foes of 
their country. It was universally expected that Mr. Chamberlain's 
visit, even if inspired partly by considerations unconnected with 
the colonies, would do good, and Mr. Morley, who usually attributed 
to him the highest motive, declared that his fitness for the formidable 
task of reconstructing the social fabric and overcoming the moral 
and material difficulties in South Africa was greater than that of any 
other man he knew. 

The universal notice attracted by so novel a mission, and the 
flattery lavished on Mr. Chamberlain, revived his drooping spirits. 
He ' bestrode the narrow world like a Colossus,' and Sir Henry Camp- 
bell-Bannerman, who took as keen a pleasure as a kindly man of the 
world could find in dropping piquant phrases on an adversary, re- 
marked that he was a little Ute tnontde. Scribes and tattlers gossiped 
as to the exact meaning of these words with as minute an air as Mr. 
Meredith's Egoist and Mrs. Mountstuart Jenkinson. A ' swelled 
head ' was the popular translation, but learned critics noted a deeper 
reading. One pointed out in the AtitefUBum that in France the phiase 
is used for a particular form of excited obstinacy on a given point. 
The second of the two words is employed as in the ' rising ' of milk 
when it boils over, so that according to an erudite conunentator 
' Ute montie ' has elements not only of personal intellectual pride, 
but also of sudden movement and even of anger. 

The gibe was provoked by an acrimonious passage in the travel- 
ler's leave-takinR speech to the House of Commons on South Africa — 
a speech to which the Boer Generals Botha and Delarey listened in 
the strangers' gallery. Mr. Chamberlain promised to be noncontro- 
versial, but if his spirit was willing his tongue was weak. 

There's something in me that reproves my fault; 
But such a headstrong potent iault it is. 
That it but mocks reproof. 

254 



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THE ILLIMITABLE VELD 255 

Even in an hour of good-will he could not resist the. temptation to 
flick the sore spot in an adversary. Repl)dng to some observations 
by Sir William Harcourt, he said sarcastically, ' I suppose the right 
honourable gentleman is a leader.' ' Oh ! ' exclaimed Sir Henry 
Campbell-Bannerman, in reproach at his sarcasm. ' I beg the right 
honourable gentleman's pardon,' retorted the Colonial Secretary, 
looking across at Sir William's successor ; ' I forgot he is the leader.' 
Sir Henry, whose face was blanched with anger at this sneer, sprang 
to the table and reminded him of his promise. ' Where is the matter 
of controversy ? ' meekly asked the pitiless debater, as if he were 
making the most innocent inquiry : ' I said the member for Mon- 
mouthshire was a leader. Is that a matter of controversy ? ' The 
question excited the merriment of Unionists, but exasperated the 
Radicals. ' Very small ! ' cried one of the latter. ' I am glad,' 
retorted Mr. Chamberlain with a mocking bow, ' to have the opinion 
of so good a judge.' 

Birmingham naturaUy took the leading part in the friendly send- 
off to its famous townsman. All parties united there in a banquet 
and a torchlight procession in his honour. According to the resolu- 
tion of the local Liberal Association, there was a unanimous feeling 
that his mission was wisely conceived in the interests of future peace 
and that every one anxious for the fusion of parties and races in South 
Africa should do the utmost to make it a success. Although political 
opponents resented a partisan allusion which fell from him in the 
House of Commons to this mark of good-will on the part of his fellow- 
citizens, nothing occurred to mar the gracefulness or friendliness of 
the compliment ; and indeed the whole country joined in approval 
of the spirit and aim with which he undertook his journey. 'I go,' 
he said, 'to see every representative of every class and race and 
section who may desire to see me. My ears will be open to all that 
they have to say to me, my eyes to all that they will show me.' 

The imperialism which had been gradually encroaching on his 
parochial-mindedness was now in complete possession of Mr. Chamber- 
lain's imagination. Twenty years had passed since John Bright 
and Lord Granville detected in that complex nature the spirit of the 
Jingo. In his resistance to Home Rule he gave expression to it, 
and the imperial flame was fanned by the sympathy of Canada and 
Australia and other colonies with the mother-coimtry in its time of 
trial, and by their zeal in furnishing men to fight the Boers. ' We 
are all imperialists now,' said the Colonial Secretary at a Fishmongers' 
banquet in October, 1900 ; ' we have at last abandoned the " craven 
fears of being great," which were the disgrace of a previous age, and 
now we find that our people, the democracy, understand the nature, 
the extent, the possibilities of this great empire.' ' Think of it, gen- 



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256 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

tlemen,' he cried, ' an empire such as the world has never seen ! ' 
There was the same spirit in his speech on August i, 1902, when he 
and Lord Klitchener received the freedom of the Grocers' Company. 
He quoted from Milton's Areopagitica an inspiring passage : ' Methinks 
I see in my mind a noble and puissant nation rousing herself like a 
strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks. Methinks 
I see her as an eagle mewing her mighty youth, and kindling her 
undazzled eyes at the full mid-day beam.' 

Thus inspired by imperialism, out of sympathy with home contro- 
versies, and anxious to effect a conciliatory settlement in the land 
where war had left much racial ill-feeling, Mr. Chamberlain, accom- 
panied by his wife, sailed from England on November 25 in His Majesty's 
Ship Good Hope, Going by the Mediterranean and East Africa he 
had an audience of the Elhedive of Eg3^t and paid a visit to the 
Pyramids, he took a trip on the Uganda railway to Nairobi where a 
war-dance was given in his honour and he called on the Sultan of 
Zanzibar.^ 

His reception at Durban, which he reached on December 26, was 
enthusiastic, and he had the same experience wherever Britons were 
gathered together. They were inunensely interested in the strong 
statesman, and were gratified by a visit which was without precedent 
in our history. The attitude of the Dutch varied. Some were encour- 
aging and cordial ; others were sullen and irreconcilable. Mr. Cham- 
berlain visited battlefields and mines, he sojourned at many towns 
and passed through vast tracts of lonely veld, he conversed with old- 
fashioned farmers and negotiated with quick-witted financiers, he 
travelled by a train de luxe and by a mule-drawn wagonette, he saw 
the triumphs of industry and the devastations of war. At home his 
progress through the various colonies, old and new, was foUowed with 
minute attention. It was described day by day in the newspapers as 
fully as the state tour of a prince, and usually the accounts of it were 
as glowing as those of a royal tour. 

While naturally extolling the empire and the flag in most of his 
orations, Mr. Chamberlain made friendly and even generous overtures 
to those who had fought against us. ' We hold out our hand,' he said, 
on arriving at Durban, ' and we ask the Dutch to take it fi*ankly and 

^ While Mr. Chamberlain was off the East coast of Africa the King's speech 
at the prorogation of Parliament recorded : ' The war in South Africa, after 
lasting lor two years and a half, has been brought to a successful and honourable 
conclusion ; the new Colonies of the TransvaaJ and the Orange River have been 
incorporated in my Empire, and in spite of the inevitable difficulties consequent 
on a long, destructive war, there seems twtty reason to hope that material pros- 
perity, greater than any they have yet experienced, may visit these regions, and 
that all sections of the population may live together in friendship with each other, 
and loyalty to the Crown.* 



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THE ILLIMITABLE VELD 257 

in the spirit in which it is tendered.' He claimed no racial ascendency. 
On the contrary, in the speeches which marked his journey through 
Natal, he advocated social as well as political unity. Several of the 
Boer Generals and other prominent Dutch residents attended a garden 
party to meet him at the Residency, at Pretoria, and sat at table 
with the British at a banquet given in his honour. His experience in 
the Transvaal was on the whole encouraging, but it produced some 
disillusionment, and this was not due to one race alone. Even at the 
Pretoria banquet a spokesman for the British community in proposing^ 
the High Commissioner's health remarked that they wanted crown 
colony government ' with a little less crown and a little more colony/ 
' I was under the impression,' said Mr. Chamberlain, in an injured tone,. 
' that I had come here as one of the guests in a sodal gathering ; I 
did not know that I was expected to face controversial subjects.' On 
the proper occasions he dealt plainly enough with many stiff con- 
troversies. 

It was not only in a spirit of conciliation, but also, as he stated, 
in a spirit of firmness that he visited South Africa, and the latter 
quahty was shown by him in a reply to a memorial of Boer delegates, 
who requested that an amnesty might be extended to the rebels in 
our old colonies who had fought against us. According to Mr. George 
Griffith, who has preserved his vivid impressions in a book With Cham- 
berlain through South Africa, ' his face was like a flint,' and the Dutch- 
men who hstened in the Chamber in which the First Raad used to sit 
* felt every word like a whip lash,' when he begged the Boers to show 
by their own conduct towards the National Scouts (who fought on 
our side) that they were ready to let the past bury the past. That, he 
said, was a condition which should precede a request for a general 
British pardon. ' We shall keep our part of the contract,' he declared,, 
with reference to the terms of peace, ' and we expect you to keep yours. '' 
After the interview the Boer leaders who had formerly counselled 
moderation advised their fellow-countrymen to loyally accept the 
situation. 

At Johannesburg, where he spent ten January days, the travelling 
Secretary of State had to deal with other problems. Here he con- 
ducted financial negotiations with the capitalists of the Rand. The 
opinion was strongly held by all classes at home that the colonists in 
whose interest the mother-country had made enormous sacrifices 
should lighten the burden on the taxpayers by a substantial contri- 
bution to the cost of the war. At the same time their willingness to- 
do so was doubted. ' There are people who say,' as Mr. Chamberlaini 
told the rich men of Johannesburg, ' you are the only British citizens 
that will fail in yoiu: duty.' ' No,' they shouted, whereupoa he re- 
sponded coldly : ' I will wait and see.' On the result of the finandaL 

17 



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258 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

negotiations the success of his unprecedented tour would, in the vision 
of many critics, to a great extent depend ; and he himself did not wish 
to return home empty-handed. Mr. Chamberlain's first idea when 
he went out was that all future surpluses on certain sources of revenue 
in the Transvaal should be ear-marked for pa3anent to Great Britain 
towards the cost of the war. In Johannesburg, however, he was 
turned from this plan by the mining magnates. It was agreed, after 
many conferences, that a certain sum should be raised by loan. At 
first the smart men of the Rand proposed that the whole of this money 
should be spent on the material development of the country, but, as 
Mr. William Maxwell, the correspondent of the Standard, stated, Mr. 
Chamberlain at once pointed out that this scheme was tantamount to 
paying one's debts by spending the amount of them on oneself. 

A remarkable bargain was struck. The home Government, on 
the advice of Mr. Chamberlain, imdertook to guarantee a loan of 
thirty-five millions sterling for reproductive works in the new colonies ; 
and on the other hand another loan of thirty millions, secured on the 
assets of the Transvaal, was to be raised in three annual instalments 
as a contribution to the war debt of the United Kingdom, a group of 
financiers in Johannesbuig undertaking to subscribe the first ten 
millions. This arrangement, arrived at with the great mining houses, 
was ratified by a conference of traders and merchants as well as 
Rand representatives. Disappointment with it was expressed in 
many organs of the British press. ' We give you ' — one critic said 
in summing it up — ' thirty-five millions and you give us thirty.' Mr. 
Chamberlain, although he had hoped to get more, described the war 
<x)ntribution of thirty millions as a liberal recognition by the Transvaal 
of its duty to the empire. There was one point on which he was 
emphatic. He intimated that the whole scheme hung together and 
that the one part could not be separated from the other ; and it was 
•assumed by the fellow countrymen of a Secretary of State who prided 
himself on his business training that any bargain he entered into would 
be definite and binding. Events decided otherwise. 

Much conversation was held at Johannesburg on another subject 
which led to great contention. The importation of Chinese labour 
for the mines had then begun to be advocated by the financiers, and 
there was a rumour of an arrangement under which they were to 
submit to extra taxation while the Colonial Secretary was to agree 
to their demand. A placard, indeed, was issued to the effect that 
thirty millions was the price to be paid by the colony for the Yellow 
Army. Mr. Chamberlain, however, declared that this would be an 
ignoble bargain, discreditable to the mining interests and ahnost treason- 
able on his own part. He insisted that before they tried the Chinese 
experiment every other means of obtaining labour must be exhausted. 



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THE ILLIMITABLE VELD 259 

The overwhelming public opinion of the Transvaal was, he said, op- 
posed to it, and other parts of the empire would regard the step as 
retrograde and dangerous. His influence was imdoubtedly cast 
against the experiment. The Times correspondent noted with satis- 
faction his * unequivocal recommendation ' in favour of unskilled 
white labour. ' Whether his remarks,' added that cautious observer, 
* will have any effect remains to be seen.' 

Business transactions were hallowed at a banquet by glowing 
imperialism to which the response was enthusiastic enough. ' The 
day of small kingdoms with petty jealousies is past,' said Mr. Chamber- 
lain, ' the future is with great empires, and there is no greater empire 
than ours.' With ' a colonial poet ' he exclaimed — 

Unite the Empire, make it stand compact — 
Shoulder to shoulder, let its members feel 

The touch of human brotherhood, and act 
As one great nation, true and strong as steel. 

It was another class and race that he encountered when, on leaving 
Johannesburg and its businessmen, he visited the districts of Krugers- 
dorp, Potchefstroom, Ventersdorp and Lichtenbuig. Here he met 
the old-fashioned farmers, and ' the more he saw of them the better 
he liked them.' One day he was seated with General Andreas Cronje 
in a carriage drawn by Boers ; another day he rode at the head of a 
company of mounted burghers and exchanged friendly sentiments 
with General Delarey. At Lichtenburg, addressing former foes, he 
said : ' Let us all join together to repair the ravages of the war, which 
was brought about, I believe, by a misunderstanding. You were 
suspicious of us and we of you. Now let us trust each other. If there 
comes among you any mischief-maker from outside tell him to mind 
his own business.' This appeal was responded to in a similar spirit 
by Delarey and several Boers are reported to have said that if he had 
come earlier there might have been no war. 

There were, however, many trying and embarassing incidents. 
One of the Boer leaders invited Mr. Chamberlain to meet some of his 
fellow-countrymen in his drawing-room. The meeting took place 
in the open air and when the visitor expressed surprise his host 
said, ' This is my drawing-room, your soldiers destroyed my house.' 
The trek from Potchefstroom to Mafeking in a wagonette was 
exhausting and wearying. Elaborate precautions were taken to 
protect the distinguished traveller from any hostile attack or intru- 
sion. An escort was provided, and the convoy was guarded by flanking 
patrols who were posted at commanding points and kept out of sight 
as much as possible. There was no real danger. The Boers were 
anxious indeed that he should have every facility to visit districts 
which had suffered from the war. What was trying enough to the 



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26o JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

traveller was the monotony of the land. Michael Fairless tells of a 
dying man in the East End who on hearing about the golden streets 
of the New Jerusalem said, ' It'll feel natral hke if there's chimleystoo.' 
Probably on the veld Mr. Chamberlain longed to see the chimneys of 
Birmingham. 

At Mafeking, where his experience was varied by attendance at 
an indaba of Bechuana chiefs, he had a very hearty reception from 
the patriotic British, and at Kimberley the enthusiasm rose to ' a pitch 
of frenzy.' Here he played on the imperial idea with his utmost 
fervour : * Do not forget the mother-land that bore you, and in your 
time of stress and difl&culty came to your aid. She may yet need 
your support. You must be prepared at all costs to give it. What 
an empire it is for which we are all responsible ! It is the greatest in 
extent that the world has ever known. . . . What a heritage ! You 
are co-heirs with us in its privileges and glories. Are you going to be 
content to be sleeping partners ? You must claim a share in all that 
the empire represents — claim it as an honour and a privilege to share 
her burdens and obligations.' 

These demonstrations, however, were only as rare green spots 
in the desert. Even in the towns the popular displays were insignificant 
as compared with those to which Mr. Chamberlain was accustomed 
at home. His life for many days was full of boredom. He was 
fatigued by the long journeys by road and rail and depressed by the 
stolidity or indifference of many of the Boers. Even battlefields such 
as Paardeberg, the scene of Cronje's surrender, where the traveller 
halted on his trek to Bloemfontein, were not quite inspiring ; and 
trouble awaited him at almost every centre. 

His visit to the capital of the Orange River Colony, although it 
was inaugurated in a picturesque manner with a cavalcade of horse- 
men and Cape carts, was not altogether agreeable. The distinguished 
statesman, with a hand open for beaten foes and a mind ready to forget 
their past conduct, was naturally annoyed by the irreconcUability of 
an extreme section of Dutch headed by General Christian De Wet« 
The * wild Boers ' presented an address for which he rebuked them be- 
cause it accused the victors of contravening the terms of peace. Renter's 
telegram reports that ' after shaking hands with General De Wet he 
went to his seat and began to speak immediately. He said he was 
surprised and offended by the address which had impugned his and 
the Government's honour.' When the General rose to speak Mr. 
Chamberlain peremptorily motioned him to sit down ; and he spoke 
sharply and angrily to Judge Hertzog. Once more his firmness, 
according to the English journalists, produced a salutary impression, 
and the ' loyal ' burghers repudiated the action of the irreconcilables. 

If he were not naturally sanguine and confident he might have 



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THE ILLIMITABLE VELD 261 

been depressed in Cape Colony. He found more unfriendliness among 
the Dutch here than among the old-fashioned folk in the Transvaal. 
Yet his efforts to promote conciliation were not slackened. At Gra- 
hamstown and Port Elizabeth he pleaded eloquently for the fusion 
of the races. He compared Dutchman and Englishman to Beatrice 
and Benedick, who were separated by an apparently invincible dislike, 
but each of whom through kindly stratagem was made to believe that 
the other was in love. The Colonial Secretary desired the interven- 
tion in South Africa of ' a beneficent potentate like the Duke in Much 
Ado about fvothing,* But was he not himself playing the part of the 
Duke ? At Graaf Reinet, rebel badges were displayed in the streets 
during his visit, and at Paarl many of the inhabitants disdained even 
to come to their doors to look at the great statesman. ' The Dutch 
nature,' as The Times correspondent pleaded, * does not lend itself to 
enthusiasm.' 

Even those South Africans who had little sympathy with Mr. 
Chamberlain were impressed by the spirit in which he concluded his 
tour at Capetown. Here he spent eight days in conferences and inter- 
views. He was indefatigable in his mission, if not always tactful. 
Engagements mainly of an official and formal character had been 
arranged for him, but he added others, and insisted on seeing many 
representative men for himself. He conferred with the Dutch leaders, 
including Jan Hofmeyr (who remarked to a friend that he seemed to 
be contemplating some new scheme), and the response to his overtures 
was declared to be satisfactory. 

A personal appeal was addressed by Mr. Chamberlain to a deputa- 
tion of the South African party. ' I have come here,' he said, ' at 
some inconvenience to myself. I have no personal motives and no 
political ambition to gratify. I am older than most of those present, 
and my time of active service is necessarily coming to a close. I 
have tried to fulfil my great mission in an impartial spirit. I ask you,' 
he continued, ' to give up all kinds of animosity which can prevent 
co-operation for the conunon good, and also for that imperial dominion 
which is yours as well as ours.' At a farewell banquet he remarked 
that the premier colony was the point of danger, but the incidents 
of his final week there had had the effect of relieving his anxiety, and 
he was going away with the well-grounded hope that a new era was 
beginning, and that the Cape would lead the way in the policy of recon- 
ciliation. Thus encouraged he sailed for home on February 25. He 
went out an optimist, and he returned with optimism in his language 
if not in his heart. 

During his tour he did not follow the advice of Polonius to Laertes : 
' Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.' To every man he gave 
voice as well as ear. In the course of two months he delivered about 



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262 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

seventy speeches, besides receiving between a hundred and a hundred 
and fifty deputations, and holding interviews with nearly five hundred 
men of all parties and shades of opinion. It was said in the King's 
speech at the opening of Parliament on the day that Mr. Chamberlain 
reached Capetown, that his visit ' has already been productive of the 
happiest results ; and the opportunity which it has provided for per- 
sonal conference with Lord Milner, with the Ministers of the self-govern- 
ing colonies, and with the representatives of all interests and opinions, 
has greatly conduced to the smooth adjustment of many dij05cult 
questions, and to the removal of many occasions of misunderstanding/ 
Complimentary references to it were made by opponents as well as 
friends in both Houses at Westminster. Sir William Harcourt spoke 
of the * enlightened spirit of conciliation in which he had sought to 
heal the wounds that had been inflicted in the war,' and Mr. Morley 
reported that all parties agreed in recognizing ' the manful and intrepid 
spirit which induced him to go and watch the working of his own 
policy on the spot, and to endeavour to produce from it the fruits of a 
real conciliation.' 

In one respect the tour was a failure. It had proved a severer 
physical strain than was expected. To fellow-passengers on the home- 
ward voyage Mr. Chamberlain said he had never had a harder time in 
his life. He looked more fagged than when he went away. 

Many honours awaited the imperial traveller on his arrival at 
Southampton on March 14. From his own city he received the first 
welcome, a deputation of the Birmingham Liberal Unionist Association 
meeting him on board the steamer and presenting an address. By 
the port town itself he was greeted with an enthusiasm usually reserved 
for a popular and successful general. ' I come back,' he said, * in a 
spirit of hopefulness — nay, even of confidence.' His reception in 
London by all classes, by colleagues and by populace, was exceedingly 
cordial. On the day after his return he had an audience of the King 
at Buckingham Palace, and when he reappeared in the House of Com- 
mons, looking bronzed and thinner than when he left, Unionists cheered 
again and again, while Radicals and Nationalists, as a set-off to their 
demonstration, gave an equally hearty welcome to Mr. Crooks, the 
Labour member who had just wrested Woolwich from the Conservative 
party. 

Crowds on the streets acclaimed Mr. Chamberlain on the 20th^ 
when he went to the City to be honoured by the Corporation with an 
address of congratulation. On this occasion, indeed, he enjoyed again 
a triumph such as is seldom accorded except to princes and soldiers. 
In the Guildhall, when he rose to reply, the whole distinguished assem- 
bly stood up and hailed him with ringing cheers. Subsequently, at 
luncheon at the Mansion House, the Prime Minister effusively 



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THE ILLIMITABLE VELD 265 

remarked how deeply his tour had touched the imagmation of the- 
whole country. It was described in exclamatory language by the 
Lord Mayor : ' such prodigies of travel, such marvels of oratory, . . . 
a progress unparalleled in either ancient or modem history, under 
circumstances which would have seriously taxed the endurance of a 
younger man.' On the 21st the Queen received Mrs. Chamberiain 
at the palace, and the Colonial Secretary dined with the King, leading 
statesmen of both sides being among the guests invited to meet him. 

With the applause of the empire ringing in his ears Mr. Chamberiain 
looked as if he were at the zenith of fame. His head seemed to strike 
the stars, his prestige in Parliament being higher than ever, and his^ 
popularity in the coimtry much greater than that of any other Unionist 
statesman. Ttte montie, the gibe suggested by Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman, was now flung at him every day by sneering opponents 
who dreaded his supremacy. When he went away he left the two- 
sides in Parliament fighting over the Education Bill ; when he returned 
he foimd a section of the Unionists in revolt against futile army pro- 
jects. He spent as little time on the Treasury bench as before. As 
soon as he had answered the questions relating to his own department, 
he retired to his room ; and few were the speeches or subjects which 
drew him back before the division bell rang. He dissociated himself 
almost ostentatiously from current controversies. 

One of the most interesting chapters in his career was concluded 
by the speech in which he gave to the House of Commons an optimistic 
account of the prospects in South Africa. Discussion taking place 
upon the guarantee loan of £35,000,000 for the development of the 
new colonies, he stated that the support of Parliament to the loan 
was conditional upon the contribution of £30,000,000 towards the war. 
The arrangement, as he announced it, ' was to fix the contribution of 
the Transvaal at the largest possible sum which it could pay, having 
regard to its present resources, in the course of the next year or two.' 
Years passed without the payment of the first instalment, but the 
veiled future did not disturb Mr. Chamberlain's optimism in March^ 
1903, nor check the admiration of the Unionist majority in Parliament* 
Men applauded him then who scarcely ever applauded him again. 



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XXXVI 
FISCAL VOLTE-FACE 

O Sohrab» an unquiet heart is thine I 
Canst thou not rest among the Tartar chiefs. 
And share the battle's common chance with us 
Who love thee, but must press for ever first 
In single fight incurring single risk ? 

ON May 15, 1903, occurred the most sensational volte-face in 
Mr. Chamberlain's exciting career. Making then his first 
political appearance in Birmingham since his return from South Africa, 
lie was honoured with a splendid demonstration of welcome. Thous- 
ands of people who failed to get into the Town Hall to hear him assem- 
bled in the streets and cheered their hero. . His speech was awaited 
with lively curiosity. Great, however, as were the expectations, they 
were far exceeded by the event. Nobody outside his most confidential 
•circle anticipated that he was to renounce Free Trade and proclaim a 
new fiscal policy as the issue for the next election. His announcement 
was veritably a coup de tonnerre. 

What he was thinking of, members of the House of Commons had 
wondered, as he sat on the Treasury bench after his grand tour ? 
Few observers beUeved that in his silent, sombre moods his mind was 
lingering ' in the dark backward and abysm of time.* Allusions which 
he had thrown out in the previous two years to the approaching close 
of his political service might have betrayed temporary weariness as 
well as disappointment, but his unquiet heart would not permit him 
to linger upon the stage in a secondary r61e ; he ' must press for ever 
first.' ' You can bum your leaflets,' he said to the Opposition whip, 
* we are going to talk about something else.' While others were think- 
ing of voluntary schools and army corps and Irish land purchase, on 
all of which subjects he was out of sympathy with his colleagues, he was 
dreaming dreams no Liberal dared to dream before. 

The secret of his new ideas was not disclosed even on the Budget 
of the year, although it dealt with the fateful duty of one shilling per 
quarter on com. This tax had a brief existence. Sir Michael Hicks- 
Beach imposed it in 1902 ; his successor, Mr. Ritchie, took it off in 
1903. ' It lends itself very readily to misrepresentation,' pleaded the 
new Chancellor of the Exchequer. Liberals remembering how stoutly 

264 



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FISCAL VOLTE-FACE 265 

the Conservatives had defended it for a year laughed when it was 
abandoned. One member conjectured that the ministers in withdraw- 
ing it were riding for a fall ; another suggested that they were preparing 
for a dissolution. 

The inward meaning of the rapid change was disclosed afterwards 
by the Chancellor. Mr. Chamberlain had desired that the shilling duty 
which was imposed for revenue purposes should be kept on in order 
that preference should be given to the colonies. Mr. Ritchie was 
resolutely opposed to any such proposal ; he told the Prime Minister 
that if it were accepted he would leave the Government. ' I knew 
perfectly well,' he said, ' that this would be only the commencement of 
a much larger scheme.' Mr. Chamberlain's proposal was submitted 
to his colleagues a few days before he left for South Africa, and he 
heard of Mr. Ritchie's final refusal before he returned home in March. 
On the 31st of that month he was present at the Cabinet Coimcil at 
which the Budget was settled, and failing to get a colonial preference he 
agreed that in the meantime the duty should be dropped. The House 
and the coimtry were not aware of these circiunstances. They were 
known only to the Government. 

Mr. Chamberlain bided his time. He made his preliminary plans. 
Unlike Lord Randolph Churchill, he did not risk his career by a single 
step without calculating where it would lead him. He delayed his 
first visit to his adopted town. His meeting a t last was held on the very 
day on which the Prime Minister, in reply to a deputation, defended or 
excused the withdrawal of the com duty. While Mr. Balfour took one 
line, his daring colleague took another. 

With a fearless candour the statesman who had been the champion 
of domestic causes and the keenest fighter in the ordinary battles of 
Parliament assumed a completely new standpoint. He said he was a 
little out of touch with controversial politics ; his party weapons were a 
little rusty ; he was still under the glamour of his new experience. 

* You are excited at home about the Education BiU, about temperance 
reform, about local finance ; but these things matter no more to South 
Africa, to Canada, to Australia, than their local affairs matter to you.' 
As further proof of his aloofness he mentioned that he did not share the 
excitement caused by bye-elections ; it might be he was less sensible 
to sudden emotion since he returned from his travels I Then in a 
phrase which was often quoted in sarcasm and raillery, he said that 

* the calm which is induced by the solitude of the illimitable veld may 
have affected my constitution.' 

Thus he introduced a new fiscal policy — preference for trade with 
our colonies, and a power of negotiation with, and if necessary retahation 
against, foreign countries. His chief plea at first was imperial union. 
He declared that on what we might do within the next few years would 



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266 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

depend the enormous issue ' whether this great empire of ours is to 
stand together as one free nation — ^if necessary against all the world — 
or whether it is to fall apart into separate States, each selfishly seeking 
its own interest alone, losing sight of the conunon weal, and losing also 
all the advantages which union can give.' The colonies, according to 
Mr. Chamberlain, were trying to promote imperial union, and first 
among the means which they proposed were preferential tariffs r 
they were to give a preference to goods from the mother-country, 
and we were to give a preference to their goods as against those of 
foreign nations. Such a scheme, involving tariffs for other than revenue 
purposes was contrary, as he admitted, to the established fiscal policy 
of this country, but now he doubted ' whether the interpretation of 
Free Trade which is current among a certain limited section is the true 
interpretation.' This he described as an issue much greater in its 
consequences than any of our local disputes ; and looking forward to 
the General Election he significantly added : * I think our opponents 
may, perhaps, find that the issues which they propose to raise are not 
the issues on which we shall take the opinion of the coimtry.' 

An enormous sensation was produced by so amazing a declaration. 
The country rang with it ; every politician and every newspaper dis- 
cussed it day after day ; it gave a fresh impulse to Mr. Chamberlain's 
notoriety ; he was again the hero of the man in the street. Protec- 
ticMiists raised their heads in hope while the Free Traders who had 
cheered the Cobdenite speeches of the old Radical sorrowfully re-read 
them for arguments with which to reply to his new doctrines. These 
caused in many quarters a sense of stupefaction. 

No statesman of his generation had presented the case for Free 
Trade more clearly or emphatically. Twenty years previously Mr. 
Chamberlain had pointed to ' conclusive evidence of the soundness of 
Mr. Cobden's doctrines ' ; and when Mr. Ecroyd, in 1S82, suggested a 
colonial or imperial union for the purpose of doing away with duties 
between the different parts of the empire, he replied that it was im- 
possible to tax food without raising its price, and that it was only by 
increasing the price that the object of Mr. Ecroyd could be achieved, 
and this he regarded as a fatal objection. In November, 1885, after 
he had five years' experience of the Board of Trade, Mr. Chamberlain 
dealt with part of the proposal which he himself now put forward. 
Lord Salisbury was then, as he said, anxious to induce the colonies to 
take off their tariffs by giving them the advantages of a differential 
duty whenever they did so. ' But,' he argued, ' the only goods the 
colonies send us are food and raw materials — no manufactures what- 
ever — and therefore Lord Salisbury is convicted out of his own mouth, 
for he is going to put a differential duty on the beef, the com, the sugar, 
and the other necessaries of the working man's home. The noble lord 



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FISCAL VOLTE-FACE 267 

may be deceiving himself — ^he may be entirely ignorant upon this sub- 
ject — or he may be trying to deceive you. But in either case he is not 
a safe guide for you to follow, and I warn you at the bottom of this 
Fair Trade cry there is the question of a return to those bad times 
of Protection and of the Com Laws, which were responsible for the 
destitution and the starvation wages from which your forefathers 
suffered so greatly.' The man who used those words lived to deny 
that Protection was responsible for destitution and starvation. 

His conversion, so far as the public knew, was as sudden as Mr. 
Gladstone's in the case of Home Rule. The * Memoir of H. O. Amold- 
Forster * shows that as far back as 1896 his mind was turning to the 
idea of tariff union with the colonies, that he was then ' hopeful about 
a differential duty * and regarded food duties as essential. For his 
scheme of 1903, however, he did not prepare the country. It was on 
the basis of Free Trade within the empire that at a Canada Club dinner 
in 1896 he suggested imperial federation. Next year at the Jubilee 
conference the colonial Premiers discussed trade relations and undertook 
to consider whether a preference might not be given to imports from 
the United Kingdom, but this did not lead to any conunon action. In 
1898 there was an interesting controversy on the conduct of the Govern- 
ment in approving of the provision adopted by Rhodesia to the effect 
that the duty on British goods should never exceed the existing Cape 
tariff. This was described by Mr. Morley as a scheme which the 
Colonial Secretary formerly declined to touch with a pair of tongs, 
but Mr. Chamberlain explained that the scheme from which he shrank 
was a reciprocal arrangement, whereas the policy proposed in connexion 
with Rhodesia was that the colonies should make a differential duty 
in our favour, without demanding anything in return. 

Again, at the Colonial Conference in 1902 Mr. Chamberlain de- 
clared that our first object was free trade within the empire, although he 
used language indicating that his mind was moving in a new direction. 
He said the experience of Canada (which had given a preference with 
somewhat disappointing results) showed that * while we may most 
readily and most gratefully accept from you any preference which you 
may be willing voluntarily to accord to us, we cannot bargain with 
you for it : we cannot pay for it imless you go much further and enable 
us to enter your home market on terms of greater equality.' * So 
long,* he went on, * as a preferential tariff, even a munificent preference, 
is sufficiently protective to exclude us altogether, or nearly so, from 
your markets it is no satisfaction to us that you have imposed even 
greater disability upon the same goods if they come from foreign 
markets, especially if the articles in which the foreigners are interested 
come in under more favourable conditions.' 

The Conference, while adopting resolutions in favour of a prefer- 



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268 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

ential system, decided that it was not practicable under existing 
conditions in the colonies to establish Free Trade between them and 
the mother-country. The Canadian Ministers asked that in return 
for the preference given to products of the United Kingdom, those 
from the Dominion should be exempted from our com duty. Mr. 
Chamberlain was imable at that time to reconunend such a course 
to his colleagues. Subsequently, however, he endeavoured to use the 
tax as a means of introducing the policy of reciprocal preference, which 
he had previously shrunk from touching, and when his plan was frus- 
trated by a Free Trade Chancellor of the Exchequer he appealed from 
his colleagues to the electors. 

Various motives were attributed to Mr. Chamberlain in connexion 
with his new course. He was charged with personal ambition : it 
was said by unsympathetic critics that in spite of all protests he envied 
Mr. Balfour and desired with a policy of his own to capture the leader- 
ship of the Unionist party. He was charged also with the pettier 
motives of resentment and revenge ; it was — according to some of his 
opponents — ^because he failed to get his way in the Cabinet that he 
had decided to sacrifice his principles. Certainly he was not the man 
to accept a rebuff meekly from Mr. Ritchie, but if he wished merely to 
retaliate he could have done so without taking so daring a leap 
in the dark. Another charge was that he started the new cry with the 
object chiefly of diverting the attention of the country from the mis- 
management of the war, the blunders of army administration, the in- 
justice of the Education Act to Dissenters, and the possible failure of 
his arrangements in South Africa. It was predicted that the mine- 
owners would force Chinese labour upon the Transvaal and it was 
conjectured that he desired to avoid responsibility for a system so 
repugnant to British sentiment.^ Punch expressed the feeling of many 
Unionists in depicting him as meddlesome Joe, fidgety Joe. Like 
Shaftesbury, in Dryden's lines, he was considered even by some of those 
with whom he had been acting for seventeen years — 

Restless, unfixed in principles and place ; 
In power unpleased, impatient of disgrace. 

The view of an opponent sceptical as to his sincerity was given by Mr. 
Labouchere, who wrote — 

On his return from South Africa he found that militant imperialism was at 
a discount, and that his popularity had diminished. It was necessary, therefore, 
for him to alter his tactics if he wished to be not only a Minister, but the Afinister. 
So he became an Imperial Protectionist, and crusaded in favour of a tax on 
foreign imports, and taxation of food for the benefit of our colonies. 

A more creditable explanation was that since he held his new office, 

^ Chinese indentured labour was sanctioned by Mr. Chamberlain's successor 
in 1904. 



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FISCAL VOLTE-FACE 269 

and particularly since his visit to the veld, he saw ever5rthing in the 
light of the colonies ; it was the dream of imperial miion which inspired 
his policy. ' Yes,' he said, when he was chaffed on being a visionary ; 
* yes, I am a political visionary ; I dream dreams of empire ; my 
waking thoughts are taken up with it.' 



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XXXVII 
STORY OF OLD AGE PENSIONS 

IN espousing the cause of Tariff Reform Mr. Chamberlain diverted 
the energy of his will from old age pensions. The subject lingered 
in his mind and he made a few spasmodic attempts to connect it with 
his new policy, but his record with regard to it forms the most dis- 
appointing chapter of a checquered career. It is a record of hope 
repeatedly renewed and always deferred. Pensions never were, but 
always to be passed ! 

The continuous story which may be conveniently narrated at this 
point, when social reform was exchanged for fiscal adventure, dates 
from 1891. Early that year, at Aston Manor, Mr. Chamberlain put 
before the electors ' my own ideas, my own plans ' for making provision 
for old age, and reconunended for discussion a system of compulsory 
insurance. In April, at Portsmouth, he suggested a scheme of in- 
surance through the Post Office, and the same month he con- 
sulted the Grand Council of the Birmingham Liberal Unionist 
Association. * Better,' he said, ' to keep together the home than 
to break up the kingdom ! ' Pensions were then his alternative 
to Home Rule. In May, presiding at a conference of members 
of Parhament and others, he recommended that they should begin with 
a voluntary scheme : if it proved successful it could be made compulsory 
at some future time. In June he wrote to the Rural World : ' I have 
placed myself in conununication with the officials of the Post Office, 
and with some of the leading representatives of the great Friendly 
Societies, and I hope that with their assistance and advice it may be 
possible before long to suggest a definite scheme which will be practi- 
cable from a financial point of view, and at the same time will be popu- 
lar with the working classes generally.' At a dinner of the Liberal 
Union Club in the same month he sketched a programme, and said : 
' We may do something to promote a scheme of State assistance of 
thrift whereby we may make it easy for the working classes to provide 
against destitution in their dedining years.' In November, at Birm- 
ingham, he stated there would be no chance whatever of carrying a 
■compulsory scheme through Parhament, but he added : ' I confess for 
myself that I regret it, because a compulsory scheme would be very 
simple, and it would be absolutely necessary to a large measure of 
success.' 

270 



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STORY OF OLD AGE PENSIONS 271 

A committee of members of the House of Commons interested in 
the subject, which was formed in 1891, drew up a plan for a State 
Pension Fund to which Parliament should make an annual grant, 
supplemented by contributions from the local rates. * I am not 
committed to this scheme or to any scheme/ declared Mr. Chamber- 
lain in April, 1892. ' But my interest in the subject is not in the slight- 
est degree diminished, and I shall give to it a persistent and continuous 
attention in the hope that even in my own time I may see the satis- 
factory solution of it.' On the eve of the General Election he became 
more definite. ' I beg to say,' he wrote to the Rural World in June, 
' that the question of old age pensions has now been raised to the front 
rank of poUtical questions. More discussion is required before the 
details of any scheme can be finally settled, but the principle for which 
I have been contending has been accepted by Mr. Balfour on behalf of 
the Government.' Two da)rs before the dissolution, speaking in the 
Bordesley division, he expressed an equally emphatic opinion to the 
cheering electors. ' You know that I have made a proposal in refer- 
ence to this matter. ... I say that no man ought to be compelled to 
end his days in the workhouse, and I say that in some form or another, 
according to my proposal or according to some other, the State ought 
to come to his assistance, and to give him a pension, which at all events 
will be sufficient to prevent him from seeking poor-law reUef at the end 
of his days.' Here are some allusions made by Mr. Chamberlain to the 
subject during the election of 1892 : — 

You know perfectly well that for some years I have been advocating a system 
of old age pensions. ... I have been the first politician of Cabinet rank who 
has brought this matter to the public attention. — (July 8.) 

Our scheme has been carefully examined by an actuary, and I am here to 
Bay that it is a practical proposal which, if we remain at peace, if the finances are 
weU managed, and if we continue to have, as we have had during the course of 
the Unionist Government, large surpluses, we may be able to carry out, without 
adding one farthing to the taxation of the country. — (July 14.) 

My old age pension scheme holds the field. — (July 16.) 

During the Administration of Mr. Gladstone and Lord Rosebery 
the question was not forgotten. Early in 1893, the Midlands Liberal 
Unionist Association issued a leaflet headed ' Mr Chamberlain's Labour 
Progranune ' which included a statement of what he proposed on this 
subject.^ In the same year a Royal Conunission was appointed to 
consider whether any alterations in the system of poor-law relief were 

^ Old age pensions guaranteed by the State. Mr. Chamberlain proposes a 
X)ayment of £2 10s. (before the age of twenty-five), and a subscription of 105. a 
year to secure for a man a small pension at the age of sixty-five. Those who pay 
•£5 down, and 20s. annually wiU also provide for the pajrment to the widows and 
children, in case of death before sixty-five. Men who have received a pension 
of 25. 6d.& week in a Friendly Society wiU have the pension doubled by the State. 
Further information on the pension scheme may be obtained from any Liberal 
Unionist agent. 



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272 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

desirable in the case of persons whose destitution was caused by in- 
capacity to work, or old age, and whether assistance could be otherwise 
afforded. While it was sitting in 1894, a bill to establish pensions was 
brought in by a private member, and as the discussion was adjourned 
at the instance of the Government, Mr. Chamberlain denounced them 
for defeating a measure * which aimed at estabUshing a principle for 
which I am contending.' * I look forward,' he said, ' to the time when 
some minister will be found bold enough to propose to lay aside experi- 
mentally what may be considered a reasonable sum towards the com- 
mencement of a system of old age pensions, and if that is satisfactory 
I am not disposed to place any limit on its ultimate development.' 
Other important declarations followed in his own city — 

I want to give facilities to working men — to all men, aye, and to all women, 
to make provision against their old age. The Government have appointed a 
Commission to inquire into the subject. That has meant a delay of two years. 
I think myself the time might have been employed in inquiring into the details- 
of a practicable scheme. I say that my mind, at any rate, and I believe the 
mind of the Unionist party, is made up. — (May 3, 1894.) 

My hope is that under another Administration and under another Chancellor 
of the Exchequer, we may return to a time of prosperity, to a period of surpluses, 
and my hope and belief is that these surpluses may be used in order to stimulate 
the provision of those old age pensions which will do more, I believe, than any* 
thing else to secure the happiness and the contentment of the working classes. 
(December 6, 1894.) 

A Unionist Chancellor came in with surpluses, but although Mr. 
Chamberlain boasted during the General Election of 1895 that his pro- 
posal was so simple that any one could imderstand it nothing was 
spared for old age. The Commission which sat from 1893 to 1895 
reconunended investigation by a small expert Conunittee, and accord- 
ingly the Rothschild Committee was appointed by the Salisbury 
Government in 1896. Two years later they made an imfavourable 
report. Their inquiry was described by the Colonial Secretary as very 
incomplete and imsatisf actory ; and at the end of 1898 he admitted that 
it might not be possible immediately to deal with the question. There 
were financial considerations to be taken into account, and there were 
other matters, perhaps, which might have a still more pressing claim 
upon the Government. Nevertheless, hope sprung eternal in his breasts 
Perhaps he was pressing the problem upon his colleagues. He did not 
despair that * before they went out of office they might be able to do- 
something to assist, and to stimulate and encourage provision for old 
age, and to secure the veterans of industry, the men who had fought 
a good fight, from the worst consequence of failing power and of un- 
deserved misfortune.' In the course, however, of controversy in the 
following year he treated his former proposal as tentative, and explained 
that it was dropped because it was not accepted on behalf of the 
working classes or the Friendly Societies. He recognized now that 



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STORY OF OLD AGE PENSIONS 273 

any universal scheme for giving pensions to everybody was beyond 
the resources of the State, and would be open to the fatal objection 
that it would make no distinction between the provident, thrifty and 
industrious man, and the drunkard and spendthrift. 

On the motion for the appointment of another Conunittee in April, 
1899, when a private member brought in a bill, Mr. Asquith taunted Mr. 
Chamberlain with having given a ' promise ' of pensions at Hanley 
in 1895.* * It was a proposal, not a promise,' he explained. ' I 
think,' retorted Mr. Asquith, ' it will be sirf&cient to maintain an action 
for breach of promise,' but Mr. Chamberlain insisted that ' a proposal 
was merely a suggestion for discussion. ' He admitted that some of his 
suggestions had proved inadequate and impracticable, and yet he was 
sanguine ' that before the Government goes out of office we shall have 
done something which will at all events furnish a practical scheme, the 
experience of which will be extremely useful in the future and will lead 
to the ultimate solution of the question.' A month later, addressing 
a deputation from the Oddfellows' Conference, he repeated : ' It is my 
hope before many months, and before this Parliament comes to an end, 
that something may be done.' This hope was not realized. 

The Boer war absorbed the money which the Government might 
have devoted to the * veterans of industry/ but during the election 
of 1900 he gaUy boasted ' we have not done with old age pensions ; 
I am not dead yet.' In May, 1901, with renewed power and different 
aspirations, he spoke slightingly of ' this question of old age pensions — 
as it is sometimes called, although that is a description which I person- 
ally dislike.' He admitted that the matter of assisting men to make 
provision for old age had gone back, and now he laid the blame on the 
Liberals as well as on the Friendly Societies. A few months later, 
however, he held out once more ' the hope that something might be 
done ' when the end of the war had arrived. The war ended and still 
there were no pensions. Tariff Reform became the new passion of his 
life, and pensions merely his hobby. They were suggested as part of 
his fiscal policy in 1903, but the suggestion was promptly withdrawn. 
' Some years ago,' said Mr. Lloyd George, ' the right honourable gentle- 
man ¥^as full of the question of old age pensions. He went through the 
country reconunending it, travelling for it, and a very good trade he 
made out of it, but the profits were not distributed among the deserving 
poor. He pocketed the votes of the working classes and forgot all 
about their pensions.' 

Perhaps it was not accurate to say he forgot them. He looked at 
them now and again and turned away with a sigh. There were several 
pathetic allusions to the delicate topic in his letters in 1905. In one he 
wrote : ' I have never in my life made a definite promise of old age 

* Sec noU, p. 303. 

18 



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274 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

pensions/ In another he repeated the admission that he did not now 
believe a universal system to be either practicable or desirable. In 
January, 1906, on being reminded of the subject, he blamed his political 
opponents for the fact that no progress whatever had been made with 
his scheme. Formerly he had blamed the working classes and the 
Friendly Societies ; he had pleaded more pressing claims ; he had even 
confessed that his own original proposals were impracticable, and he 
had held the war responsible for the shelving of the project by the 
Unionists. Finally in his chagrin he scolded the Radicals and other 
ungrateful persons for refusing his bounties. 



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XXXVIII 

SECOND RESIGNATION 

' TXZONDERFUL/ writes Bacon^ ' is the case of boldness in civil 
V V business. What first ? Boldness. What second and third ? 
Boldness. It doth fascinate and bind hand and foot ; therefore 
we see it hath done wonders in popular States, and, moreover, upon 
the first entrance of bold persons into action.' So it was that by 
a single speech in 1903 tariff reform was thrust to the front of 
political controversies. By one blow Mr. Chamberlain arrested 
universal attention for his new creed and with breathless energy he 
followed up his first declaration with all the arts of a skilful tongue 
and brain. He tried to capture the mind of the country by surprise. 
Not content with advocacy on a public platform he promptly carried 
the subject to the House of Conmions. A week after his sensational 
pronoimcement in Birmingham he dragged it into a debate on old 
age pensions. He said he did not think the question of pensions was 
a dead question and he thought it might not be impossible to find the 
money. * But that, no doubt,' he continued, * will involve the review 
of the fiscal question which I have indicated as necessary and desirable 
at an early date.' And this he said as a member of a Government 
which was not agreed on the subject. 

The challenge thrown down so imexpectedly to the Free Traders 
was taken up eagerly and confidently. Many Unionists were faithful 
believers in the existing fiscal sj^tem, and a large number of others 
with a conventional acceptance of current doctrine were annoyed by 
this new disturbance of their peace. Liberals, although not accepting 
Mr. Chamberlain's advice to burn their old leaflets, quickly got ready 
a stock of fresh material for campaigning purposes. Their 
deepest conviction was touched by the new issue, and they beUeved 
moreover that it would not only add to the discredit of the Govern- 
ment as a whole, but lead to the special undoing of their most powerful 
adversary. At once they raised the question of the taxation of food. 
This was seen to be the most vulnerable point in tariff reform, and its 
new champion was confronted with his former denunciations. 

' Is any one bold enough to propose that we should put duties on 
food ? ' asked Mr. Chamberlain on August 12, 1881. He himself 
was bold enough to make the proposal in a debate raised imder cover 

275 



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276 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

of the Whitsuntide motion on May 28, 1903. The Prime Minister, 
who had not made up his own mind, fenced with the question of the 
Birmingham policy ; he reconamended discussion and inquiry, and 
undertook that the Government would not deal with it before the 
dissolution. His colleague, however, rushed in with a speech which 
contained a memorable sentence. ' We come to this,' said Mr. Cham* 
. berlain, ' that if you are to give a preference to the Colonies — I do not 
' say that you are — ^you must put a tax upon food.' This announce- 
ment, uttered with a defiant vivacity, produced a profoimd impression. 
Members reaUzed that it was a historic mark in pohtics and in the 
speaker's own career. It was instantly seized by opponents; it 
became the text of speeches and articles all over the coimtry; it 
was placarded in almost every constituency. 

The ideas expressed by Mr. Chamberlain in his first Parliamentary 
speech on the subject, were embodied with more precision in a letter 
to a working man. * It wiU be impossible,' he wrote, ' to secure pre- 
ferential treatment from the Colonies without some duty on com, as 
well as on other articles of food, because these are the chief articles 
of colonial produce. . . . Whether this will raise the cost of living is a 
matter of opinion. . . . But even if the price of food is raised, the rate 
of wages will certainly be raised in greater proportion. . . . As regards 
old age pensions, I would not myself look at the matter unless I felt 
able to promise that a large scheme for the provision of such pensions 
to all who have been thrifty and well-conducted would be assured by a 
revision of our system of import duties.' 

By whatever name the Tariff Reformer might describe his new 
policy, his opponents called it Protection. The Uttle loaf and the 
big loaf, the taxed loaf and the imtaxed loaf, figured on coimtless 
platforms and at every bye-election. Mr. Chamberlain was answered 
out of his own month, few men defending Cobdenism so ably as it had 
been defended by himself. The master of the art of damaging an 
opponent by quotations from their former utterances was fought with 
his own weapon. The printed word proved deadly. With keen 
gusto the Liberals quoted such passages as the following from speeches 
in 1881 and 1885 : ' A tax on food would mean a decline in wages ; 
it would certainly involve a reduction in their productive value ; 
it would raise the price of every article produced in the United Kingdom, 
and it would indubitably bring about the loss of our gigantic export 
trade ' ; ' if you are going to tax the bread of the people you will affect 
every household in the land, and you will throw back the working 
classes of this country to the starvation wages and to the destitution 
from which Mr. Gladstone and Sir Robert Peel reUeved them.' ' And 
who said that ? ' the orator after quoting the passage would ask. 
' That was said,' he would reply, ' by the right honourable Joseph 



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SECOND RESIGNATION 277 

Chamberlain/ Thereupon the audience would groan or laugh with 
bitter mockery. 

Unionist Free Traders or Free Fooders, and a few Unionist news- 
papers, led by the Spectator, with the courage which comes from 
conviction, withstood their powerful Birmingham leader. The 
spectator promptly predicted that if he forced his proposals to an 
issue he would shatter the party into fragments. A similar warning 
was given by Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, then the most influential of 
the unofficiaJ Conservatives. Several of the younger men, notably 
Mr. Winston Churchill who quickly showed that he had inherited the 
best of his father's qualities, and Lord Hugh Cecil, the rising hope of 
the clerical Tories, opposed the new policy with boldness and tenacity. 
Feelmgs of uneasiness and bewilderment permeated the party, and 
the vast majority of members hesitated and vacillated. While a 
few eagerly enrolled themselves on the side of a cause which they had 
advocated long before Mr. Chamberlain, and while others were its 
settled uncompromising opponents, the main body, dreading the 
approach of Protection, and yet honouring the Colonial Secretary, 
swayed hither and thither, like ' loitering, shivering, irresolute Hamlets.' 

A temporizing attitude which exposed the ministers to manifold 
embarrassments and humiliations was adopted by the Government. 
During a debate on the Finance Bill, in which Sir Michael Hicks- 
Beach led an attack on Mr. Chamberlain's policy, the Chancellor of 
the Exchequer intimated that their view was that the question should 
be inquired into. For his own part Mr. Ritchie candidly admitted he 
would be surprised if inquiry would show any practical means of carry- 
ing out what was proposed. He read his reference to the subject 
from a document which Mr. Asquith described as ' the record of a 
truce ' in the Cabinet. Mr. Arthur Elliot, a Unionist of acute intellect 
and Liberal traditions, who had a short time previously been appointed 
Secretary to the Treasury, and who edited the Edinburgh Review 
with distinction, was as frank and firm as Mr. Ritchie on the side of 
Free Trade. The Prime Minister, on the other hand, declared that 
he had ' no settled conviction.' Apparently he was, to quote words 
he used on another occasion, ' as a child in these matters,' and his 
innocence contributed to the rout of the army which he led. 

In the whirligig of time Lord Goschen who had retired from the 
Government and was raised to the peerage in 1900 became once more 
the antagonist of Mr. Chamberlain. About thirty years previously 
the mayor of Birmingham had scolded him and other moderate Liberals ; 
in the next decade the author of the unauthorized Radical programme 
scoffed at its Whig critic as ' the skeleton at Egyptian feasts ' ; Home 
Rule forced them into conMradeship ; they fought side by side in many 
a battle, praising each other's blows, and although the Radical Unionist 



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278 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

told Lord Randolph Churchill in 1886 that ' there was not a chance of 
his ever serving in the same Cabinet with Goschen' they became 
colleagues in 1895. Now in his old age and in his retirement from 
official life, one of the most trenchant of critics lifted up his voice 
against the ancient troubler of his peace. 

A large number of peers assembled for the first of a series of brilliant 
fiscal debates in the Upper House ; the side galleries were crowded 
with ladies, and there was an unusual muster of Privy Councillors on 
the steps of the throne. Lord Goschen, still a master of picturesque 
language, supplied the Free Traders with an effective fighting phrase 
when he denounced the new policy as ' a gamble ' with the food of the 
people.^ On another point he was equally stem in rebuke. The 
Colonial Secretary had said that unless we adopted his proposals 
' we must accept our fate as one of the dying empires of the world.' 
This prediction excited the wrath of a statesman who was an imperialist 
at a time when the prophet was boasting of parochial-mindedness. 
^ With animated voice and energetic gesture, he protested against such 
reckless language, and asked : ' Is the doom of the empire to be pro- 
nounced on every platform if the people refuse to see thdr food taxed ? ' 

Rival groups and factions were organized. Liberal Unionists 
and Conservatives had coalesced in order to resist Home Rule. Now 
another severance took place, but the new split did not follow the old 
division. Many members of both sections of the party which had 
been in power since 1895 supported tariff reform; a considerable 
number in both went against it. The Unionist Free Food League 
was formed by the opponents of Mr. Chamberlain's policy, while his 
adherents were enrolled in a more active and aggressive body. A 
few days after the famous Birmingham speech the Colonial Secretary 
received a petition from over 200 men of some note desiring a new 
organization. According to custom in such matters, a dinner was 
held; a meeting followed on a sununer afternoon in a conmiittee 
room of the House of Commons, and the Tariff Reform League was 
founded. Daily and nightly conferences of the various Leagues and 
sections were held at the House and the Lobby throbbed with intrigues, 
defiances, threatenings, upbraidings. One section lauded the member 
for West Birmingham as the saviour of the country ; another accused 
him of reckless ambition. His latest step was Ukened by the Free 
Fooders to Mr. Gladstone's adoption of Home Rule aftd they predicted 
that its effects would be similar. Mr. Chamberlain, however, was 
himself again. He threw off his moodiness ; his activity was tireless, 

^ In 1885 Mr. Chamberlain, accusing Lord Salisbury of ' a feeble imitation 
of Protection in the guise of what is called Fair Trade/ said he did not believe 
sensible men would commit their fortunes to a party or a statesman Ihat would 
run such tremendous hasards in such a gambler's spirit. 



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SECOND RESIGNATION 279 

and his spirits were buoyant ; he spent hours ahnost every afternoon 
in the Lobby, arguing with and persuading the doubters ; he pulled 
the electioneering strings, and while the Government relied on ' in- 
quiry ' he pushed his policy, and a Tariff Committee in his town covered 
the country with leaflets. The Protectionists, although longing ta 
assail Free Trade, had for years past been timid and quiescent. Now, 
at last, they had found a leader — ^the astutest, most energetic politician 
in the country — ^and they rallied enthusiastically to the tattered flag. 

Keen curiosity existed as to the effect of the new disturbing factor 
on the relationship of the two principal Unionist statesmen. At a 
luncheon of the Constitutional Club on June 26 when Mr. Chamberlain 
was entertained and was presented by Mr. Balfour on behalf of the 
members with an address they referred to one another in affectionate 
terms. The Prime Minister was cordially cheered when he said that 
the Colonial Secretary had more than any other man, dead or alive, 
given life and expression to the idea of imperial unity. 'Clumsy 
efforts ' to separate them were, in turn, sneered at by Mr. Chamberlain. 
Presumably he meant the efforts which were made to prove that in 
starting his new propaganda he was acting disloyally to his chief. 
His declaration on the personal subject appeared to be quite explicit : 
' I desire to say now, in public, what, as many of you know, I have 
continuously said in private, that in my opinion the leadership of Mr. 
Balfoiu" is essential to the union and the success of the Unionist party. ^ 
This intimation was interpreted to mean that he was not then at any 
rate a candidate for the highest post. He was determined to prevail 
in policy, but in order to prevail it was necessary to carry Mr. Balfour 
with him. If the Prime Minister had at that early stage gone openly 
and decidedly against him, his dif&culties would have been enormously 
increased. 

By his allusion at the Constitutional Club to the merits of the 
controversy Mr. Chamberlain provoked still deeper antipathy than 
before. Quoting, in a strange context, the Biblical saying that ' man 
does not live by bread alone,' he argued that if the increased cost of 
bread was met by a proportionate decrease in some other articles, 
the cost of living would not be affected. Moreover, although these 
articles might be sold a little cheaper on account of our existing system, 
what, he asked, was the good of that to a man who could not afford 
to buy them ? To the subject of old age pensions, which he had 
connected with tariff reform in the House of Conunons, he alluded 
now in a totally different manner. * It is always near my heart,' he 
said, but he added that ' it has no part whatever in the question of a 
reform in our fiscal policy.' This contradiction of his former statement, 
while exposing him to a charge of recklessness, was regarded as a 
concession to those Tories who were afraid of the promise of pensions 



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28o JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

and objected to its being used as a Protectionist bait. His own ex- 
planation was that his original idea was that the profits of a preference 
tax might be used for the promotion of social refcHrm, but that on 
account of the Liberal attitude he was obliged to change his ground 
and treat it as part of a general scheme of fiscal rearrangement. 
On another feature of his case he was unrepentant. In spite of 
the protests of Lord Goschen and other imperialist Free Traders he 
coolly maintained his opinion that a system of preferential tariffs was 
. ' the only system by which the empire could be kept together/ 

Repeated efforts were made by Free Traders to discover what was 
the sort of inquiry which the Cabinet had agreeAto in their truce. It 
was vaguely described by various ministers. On June 29 Lord 
Selbome described it as an inquest of the nation ; on July 2 the Duke 
of Devonshire remarked that every member, every candidate, every 
elector must take part in it ; and on July 10, the Marquis of Lans- 
downe stated that the Government would give to the pubhc the facts 
and statistics upon which they would rely in forming their own judg- 
ment, this being an allusion to a huge volume subsequently issued 
by the Board of Trade. According to the Prime Minister hiinself the 
investigation was ' by the Cabinet for the Cabinet.' It served merely 
to hold the Government together for a Uttle while. Mr. Chamberlain, 
who was now as alienated from his colleague, Mr. Ritchie, as he was 
from Mr. Morley in 1886, was not thinking of inquiry. His brother, 
Mr. Arthur Chamberlain, who adhered to Free Trade, hit the mark 
when in a phrase which became current in the controversy he stated at 
the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce on July 22 that they were going 
to have 'a raging, tearing propaganda.' 

While the House of Commons, by the tactics of a Prime Minister 
with ' no settled conviction,' was obliged to fall back on questions in 
exploring the subject, the House of Lords rose to the occasion and 
deliberately debated Mr. Chamberlain's poUcy in aU its aspects. On 
July 23, when another animated protest was made in the Gilded Cham- 
ber, Lord James of Hereford, who had been among his colleagues in the 
Governments both of Mr. Gladstone and Lord Salisbury , played an 
interesting r61e. From one of the back crimson benches he addressed 
an eloquent appeal to the Duke of Devonshire. Seventeen years 
previously his Grace ' saved the cotmtry ' from Home Rule, and in 
the new crisis Lord James exhorted him to stand forth and give his 
aid in averting what would be a great disaster to the empire and a gross 
injustice to the people themselves. The slow-moving Duke had been 
irritated by the irruption of this fresh controversy, and by a new de- 
mand upon his energy at a period when he was expecting repose. 
At the same time he was not so alarmed as others were by Mr. Cham- 
berlain's crusade. Free Trade, he said, was not to collapse ' at 



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SECOND RESIGNATION 281 

the blast of the trumpet of a single man, however powerful/ Although 
Lord James's appeal may have touched his conscience, he was 
determined to do all in his power to prevent the breaking up of the 
Government. 

In the Cabinet itself, however, the question was gradually although 
slowly causing a rift. Several controversies, of which the public were 
ignorant, took place in summer among the ministers, and Mr. Balfour 
learned that resignations were inevitable. On the last day of the 
session they had before them two dociunents, a pamphlet containing 
' Economic Notes on Insular Free Trade ' (subsequently published by 
Mr. Balfour) and another paper embod)dng the proposals which he 
wished officially to put forward in the name of the Government. In- 
cluded in the latter, according to the revelation of Lord George Hamil- 
ton, were preferential tariffs and the taxation of food. ' We agreed,' 
said Lord George, ' to the publication of the first document ; we differed 
as to the acceptance of the proposals in the second.' The discussion 
was adjourned, and members of the Government entered on their 
holidays with troubled minds. Those with convictions in favour of 
Free Trade must in their hearts have bitterly reproached the wrecker 
of their peace. 

The reappearance of the Cabinet in Council on September 14, 
about two months before the time for the usual autunm meetings, 
was an open indication of the crisis which had hitherto been concealed. 
Mr. Balfour, in holiday suit and bowler hat, sprang up the steps of the 
Foreign Office, where the Council was held, with the jaunty gait of a 
man who thought that whatever happened he would be all right. 
Like Barrie's Tommy, he could be trusted to find a way out for 
himself. Mr. Chamberlain, so recently a popular hero, was hissed 
by some working men as he crossed the quadrangle, but he smoked his 
dgar unmoved. Less candid deliberations were never conducted 
by any statesmen. The Colonial Secretary had five days previously 
tendered his resignation, but Mr. Balfour did not mention that impor- 
tant dramistance to his colleagues. Mum was the word, as an artist 
indicated in a cartoon depicting the two great ministers going to the 
Council with fingers on lips. Seeing no sign that their chief was 
prepared to resist the policy of preferential tariffs, and being ignorant 
that he had its promoter's resignation in his pocket, four Free Traders — 
the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Mr. Ritchie and 
Lord Geoiige Hamilton — sent in their own resignations after a second 
Council on the following day. The Duke being then privately infc^med 
of Mr. Chamberlain's withdrawal, and having received certain assur- 
ances, was induced to remain, but his friends were allowed to go. His 
suggestion that they should be informed of the facts which had been 
communicated to himself was declined by the man who alone was 



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282 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

entitled to divulge them. In their conversation after the first meeting 
of the Cabinet, Mr. Balfour spoke of Mr. Chamberlain's resignation as 
possible ; after the second meeting he spoke of it as probable ; and 
it was not till the third day that the Duke learned definitely that it had 
been tendered and accepted. By that date the resignations of his 
fiscal friends had been completed.* 

' Nothing/ as Lord Rosebery said, ' Uke the departure of the 
Colonial Secretary, pairing off with his principal adversaries in the 
Cabinet, had been seen since Mr. Canning and Lord Castlereagh re- 
signed in order to fight a duel.' The retirement of the one section or 
the other had been contemplated, but nobody predicted the simul- 
taneous withdrawal of both. With intense curiosity the whole country 
as well as the uninitiated ministers perused the strange, strat^c 
correspondence which had passed between Mr. Balfour and his powerful 
colleague. In the course of a letter, dated September 9, five days 
before the first Cotmdl at the Foreign Ofl&ce, the ColonisJ Secretary 
wrote : ' I think that with absolute loyalty to your Government and 
its general policy, and with no fear of embarrassing it in any way, I 
can best promote the cause I have at heart from outside.' No immedi- 
ate reply to the communication was disclosed. What Mr. Balfour 
published was a letter he wrote on September 16, after he had received 
the resignations of the Free Traders, embodying the results of conversa- 
tions with Mr. Chamberlain. It was imbued with a spirit of submission 
and sympathy. ' If you think,' wrote the Prime Minister, ' you can 
best serve the interests of imperial unity, for which you have done 
so much, by pressing your views on Colonial Preference with the 
freedom which is possible in an independent position, but is hardly 
compatible with of&ce, how can I criticize your determination ? The 
loss to the Government is great indeed, but the gain to the cause you 
have at heart may be greater still.' 

In what was r^arded as ' pretty Fanny's way ' Mr. Balfour re- 
served a significant portion of his letter for a postscript. Every one 
smiled on reading ' with what gratification, both on personal and on 
public grounds,' he had learnt that Mr. Austen Chamberlain was ready 
to remain a member of the Government. The young man who suc- 
ceeded Mr. Ritchie in the high post of Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
was looked upon by some critics as a ministerial hostage for his father. 
On the other hand Mr. Goldwin Smith spoke harshly of Mr. Chamber- 
lain ' leaving his son to work as his confederate ' in the Cabinet. The 
reason for his resignation that he himself gave to Mr. Balfour was 
repeated on several occasions. For instance, in August, 1904, he 
said : ' I recognized that the Prime Minister did not go as far as I 

* Mr. Arthur Elliot, the Secretary to the Treasury, although not in the 
Cabinet, followed the^other Free Traders into retirement. 



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SECOND RESIGNATION 283 

wished to go, and that my contmued presence in the Government 
would mean either that I should embarrass him, or that I myself 
should be tmable to speak freely ; therefore I went to speak freely to the 
country on a matter to which I attached so much importance.' Although 
politicians closely associated with him declared that his regard for Mr. 
Balfour was deep and sincere, consideration for colleagues was not 
imputed to the advocate of unauthorized programmes among his 
cardinal virtues. A plain and practical explanation of his resignation 
was given by one of his ablest journalistic supporters who wrote in 
the Observer that he was ' assured of sufficient support to justify him 
in coming out of the Cabinet/ 

A sensation that rippled round the world was produced by the 
withdrawal of the strongest and best-known member of the Cabinet 
in ciromistances so unusual and mysterious. Telegrams of regret 
came from the colonies ; and at home the event caused a shock to 
the supporters of the Government. Would it last long without the 
statesman who had been its principal pillar ? The general expectation 
was that it would speedily collapse, and those who distrusted the 
member for West Birmingham suspected that he shared that feeling. 
Mr. Balfour made adequate acknowledgment of the greatness of his 
loss. ' The place,' he said, ' which Mr. Chamberlain occupied, 
others may occupy, but none can fill.' He endeavoured to induce 
Lord Milner, who was then in Europe, to take the vacant post, but the 
High Commissioner preferred to return to South Africa, and the Colonial 
Secretarj^hip was entrusted to Mr. Lyttelton. Having reconstructed 
his Government, the Prime Minister went on in his own way with 
equanimity. If the Duke of Devonshire had come out at the same 
time as the others, the fabric might have tottered to the grotmd. By 
persuading him to remain Mr. Balfour displayed some of the dexterity 
in which he excelled. In a little while, the Whig leader also resigned, 
but before he carried out his intention the Government had recovered 
from the first shock, and, although its head felt the second blow, it 
survived. 

Mr. Chamberlain's feelings were revealed in a letter to the Duke 
on September 21. He said that after eighteen years of loyal co-opera- 
tion he was ' bitterly hurt ' by the fact that his Liberal Unionist 
colleague at this crisis had taken others (Tory Free Traders) instead of 
himself to his counsels and he lamented the lack of agreement on the 
fiscal question. ' If the Cabinet and the Party,' he wrote,* ' had 
been united we might have faced the General Election with confidence 
that even if we were defeated — as I believe we should have been on 
Education and War Office Reforms — ^we should have had a policy 
for the future which time and discussion would have made victorious.' 
^ Life of the Duke of Devonshire, by Bernard Holland. 



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284 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

He reproached his colleagues with their conduct. ' I, who for the 
sake of the party swallowed these camels, now find that you and others 
strain at my gnat ! What did I ask of you before I went to South 
Africa ? That you should retain the shilling com duty and give a 
drawback to Canada. I thought you had all, except Ritchie, accepted 
this policy. While I was slaving my life out you threw it over as of 
no importance.' 

To this letter a pacifying reply was sent by the Duke and thereupon 
Mr. Chamberlain expressed himself quite satisfied so far as any personal 
question was concerned. The rupture, however, which he had caused 
steadily widened. On October i, a few days before his ' raging 
and tearing propaganda ' was to begin at Glasgow, the Prime Minister 
intervened at the conference of the National Union of Conservative 
and Constitutional Associations at Sheffield. Mr. Balfour said he 
did not think that ' public opinion was ripe in this country for the 
taxation of food ' on which the policy of preferential tariffs was to 
be based, but he called for ' freedom of negotiation ' with protective 
countries. ' Do you desire to reverse the fiscal tradition, to alter 
fimdamentally the fiscal tradition, which has prevailed diuing the 
last two generations ? ' ' Yes,' he replied to himself, ' I do. . . . I 
propose to alter that tradition by asking the people of this country 
to reverse, to annul, and delete altogether from their maxims of 
public conduct the doctrine that you must never put on taxation 
except for revenue purposes.' 

The Sheffield speech provided a compromise which enabled the 
Tariff Reformers and the moderate Free Fooders, although with doubt 
and uneasiness, to continue their joint support of the Government. 
Free Traders of the old school, however, were alarmed, and the Duke 
of Devonshire now followed his friends into retirement. Although 
certain trimmers tried to detect hostility between the plans of Mr. 
Balfour and those of Mr. Chamberlain, the admiring Titnes remarked 
that they were ' playing the game with the perfect mutual under- 
standing and the consummate skill of a pair of accomplished whist- 
players.' From that game the Duke of Devonshire withdrew. He 
did not share Mr. Balfour's wish to alter fundamentally our fiscal 
tradition. On the contrary he believed that ' our present system of 
free imports, and especially our food imports, is on the whole the 
most advantageous to the country.' It was because this system was 
attacked that he sorrowfully and reluctantly claimed his liberty. 

Once more, then, the Whig leader and Mr. Chamberlain stood in 
opposite camps. For thirty years their careers had been intermingled. 
They met in Parliament as Opposition leader and independent Radical ; 
they became colleagues and rivals in Mr. Gladstone's second Admin- 
istration ; the unauthorised programme threatened to part them for 



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SECOND RESIGNATION 285 

ever, but Home Rule drew Chatsworth and Birmingham together, and 
a political providence came to the aid of the House of Lords, of landed 
property and Church establishments. From the assailant Mr. Cham- 
berlain was transformed into the champion of existing institutions, 
and the comradeship of Whig and Radical proved durable and cordial. 
The Duke said, early in 1903, that since Home Rule brought them 
into closer political association he did not believe that on any single 
occasion there had arisen any question of serious difference between 
them. But now, in old age, they parted company, the Radical agita- 
tor of 1885 becoming the leader of the Protectionist Tories, and the 
Whig finding himself in the same path as the ' Gladstonian Liberals.' 
Truly it has been observed that politics are not a drama where scenes 
follow one another according to a methodical plan. 

' A political severance — somewhat resembling in this a change of 
religion — should at most occur not more than once in life.' Thus 
Mr. Gladstone wrote in 1873 to Dr. Allon with reference to the idea 
of a conflict between himself and Nonconformists. ' It must needs 
be that offences come ; but woe to that man by whom the offence 
cometh ! ' The fresh political severance which occuued in the lives 
of the Duke of Devonshire and Mr. Chamberlain was painful to 
themselves and disagreeable to their fellow-countr}mien ; and on 
account of it much opprobrium was thrown on the restless promoter 
of a new policy by many of his Unionist friends. 



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XXXIX 

PILGRIMAGE OF PASSION 

* ^^^OU have,' said a kindly opponent of Mr. Chamberlain, ' a power- 
X ful and popular man, a past master in the arts of political 
strategy, who attracts the sympathy of the comitry by a great dis- 
play of energy and courage. You have him making a pilgrimage 
of passion.' At the age of sixty-seven, taking his political life in his 
hands, the retired minister of the crown started on the boldest and 
most difficult enterprise in which he ever engaged. As in the case 
of his resistance to Home Rule, he would, if he were an ordinary 
politician, have been embarrassed by his record, but he fearlessly 
flung away every shred of Cobdenism which would have impeded 
him in his propaganda. When Free Trade speeches were quoted 
against the fiscal reformer, he calmly dismissed them with the remark 
that the changes which had taken place since they were delivered 
fully justified a modification of our policy. He did not attempt, as 
Mr. Gladstone would have attempted, to prove consistency or con- 
tinuity of thought. 'Altered circimistances ' made such an effort, 
in his opinion, needless. Mr. Morley has referred, d propos of another 
statesman, to ' the desire of a true orator's temperament, to throw 
his eager mind upon a multitude of men, to spread the Ught of his own 
urgent conviction, to play the part of missionary with a high evangel.' 
It was with this desire that Mr. Chamberlain, abandoning place and 
^ary, separating himself from the comrades of his middle age, and 
renouncing the opinions of a lifetime, set out to convert the country 
to his new doctrines. 

When he opened the propaganda at Glasgow on October 6, 1903, 
he attracted universal attention. ' England listens to him,' truly said 
a writer in the Forinighily Review, ' and the empire listens, whether 
men agree with him or not.' As he faced an enthusiastic audience, 
excited by his personality and by the strange development of his 
career, and as he stood beside his wife on the platform, watched by 
an army of reporters, sketch-writers and artists, the seasoned cam- 
paigner seemed for the first time in his life to suffer from nervous 
tension. He realized that he had raised great expectations and he 
was anxious to fulfil them. Although he spoke impressively he 
relied less on argument than usual and more on rhetoric. ' The com- 

286 



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PILGRIMAGE OF PASSION 287 

mon flag ' and ' sons of the empire ' and other patriotic phrases were 
introduced to give colour and stimulus to his oration. Protesting 
that under no conceivable circumstances would he consent to be 
put in any sort of competition with the friend and leader whom he 
meant to follow, he claimed the position of a pioneer in front of the 
army and described himself as a missionary of empire. 

' I tell you/ exclaimed Mr. Chamberlain, ' that it is not well to- 
day with British industry.' That was the conmiercial basis of his 
argument. The protected countries had, he said, progressed in an 
infinitely better proportion than ourselves ; our imperial trade was 
absolutely essential to our prosperity ; if that trade declined, or if 
it did not increase in proportion to our population and to the loss of 
trade with foreign countries, then we would sink at once into a fifth- 
rate nation ; our fate would be the fate of the empires and kingdoms 
of the past. In return for a very moderate preference the colonies 
would, he asserted, give us a substantial advantage ; not only would 
they enable us to retain the trade which we had, but they were ready 
to give a preference on all the trade which was now done with them 
by foreign competitors. While admitting that in order to have a 
preferential arrangement with them we must put a tax on food, he 
asserted that nothing that he proposed would add one farthing to 
the cost of living of the working man or of any family. He would 
put a duty on foreign com, not exceeding two shillings a quarter, and 
no duty at all on the com coming from British possessions. Any 
loss to the Exchequer he would make up by retaliation or reciprocity ; 
he would levy an import duty on all manufactured goods, not exceed- 
ing 10 per cent, on the average, and varying according to the amount 
of labour in the goods. 

' Now the murder was out,' Mr. Chamberlain remarked with a 
sarcastic smile, when he unfolded his scheme at Glasgow. It was 
developed on the following evening before another great and excited 
audience at Greenock. Here he made a confession of faith. He was 
brought up in the pure doctrine of Free Trade, but in thirty years 
everything had changed ; ' politics have changed, science has changed 
and trade has changed.' He wanted to have free exchange with all 
the world, but if they would not exchange with him, then he was 
not a Free Trader at any price. 

The materialist view of politics which the former preacher of the 
gospel of himianity had adopted in his transformation period was 
presented in a new form. Political reforms were first abandoned, 
and now some of the social reforms which had been substituted for 
them were cast into the pit of insignificance. * Free education, the 
Factory Acts, mining regulations, fair wages clauses, compensation 
for accidents, all these are good, all of them have been of great advan- 



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288 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

tage, but they are nothing in comparison with any policy or any 
l^slation which would insure full employment, continuous employ- 
ment at fair wages ; and if your employment is filched from you, if 
you have to accept starvation wages, if you have to give up the advan- 
tages which you have obtained, then I tell you thai your loaf may he 
as big as a mountain and as cheap as dirt, and you will be in the long 
run the greatest sufferers.' * To support the plea for change he gave 
a terrible account of lost or decaying industries : ' Agriculture has 
been practically destroyed ; sugar is gone ; silk is gone ; iron is 
threatened ; cotton will go/ Unfortunatdy for his propaganda, 
several of these industries, instead of disappearing, revived and pros- 
pered. 

Replies and recriminations came fast and furious. Free Traders 
of the Liberal and the Unionist sections vied with each other in their 
efforts to defeat the new crusade. Mr. Asquith, at whom Mr. Cham- 
berlain repeatedly sneered as a lawyer unfamiliar with business, was 
the first as well as the most persistent of his critics, and presented 
the case against retaliation and preference with precision and cogency. 
The struggle brought Lord Rosebery out of his lonely furrow and into 
active association with fellow Liberals. ' Well, what do you think 
of it all ?' he asked, in his gay manner, at Sheffield. He described 
Mr. Chamberlain's ideas as a mass of glittering soap bubbles, and 
contended that a preferential system founded on the taxation of food 
would tend to dislocate and probably to dissolve the union of the 
empire. Hostile tariffs should be fought, in Lord Rosebery's opinion, 
by a more scientific and adaptive spirit^>y better education ; above 
all we must keep the universe for the sources of our raw material and 
food. 

' Diunpophobia ' was very prevalent in the early stage of the fiscal 
outbreak. Annoyance had been caused in industrial circles by the 
dumping of surplus foreign manufactures on this country and Pro- 
tectionists played with considerable effect on that feeling. Thus there 
was spread the fever which Mr. Asquith ridiculed by the name of 
' dumpophobia.' Mr. Morley, however, told the men of Lancashire 
that there was no dumping which could be so deadly for them as 
dumping new Custom-house officers on their shores. If certain in- 
dustries as was asserted were injiuedby the landing of surplus foreign 
stock at low prices, Free Traders pointed to others which prospered 
and even depended on the raw material thus cheaply obtained. 

Meantime another lease of notoriety was obtained by Mr. Chamber- 
lain. People who took little interest in politics were excited by the 

^ Jorrocks in HiUingdon Hall (Surtees) : ' Gen'lemen, cheap bread's a capital 
cry, but wot's the use o' cheap bread to the poor man if he ham't got no money 
to buy it with ? ' 



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PILGRIMAGE OF PASSION 289 

courage with which he turned his back on old beliefs and old compan-^ 
ions, and set out on a new crusade ; the speeches which he delivered 
and the accounts given of his meetings stirred the public fancy like 
stories of great battles. Pictures of the celebrated man adorned shop* 
windows in every street, and his photograph formed button-hole 
badges, and was found in Christmas crackers. He became again the 
hero of the music-halls and theatres. A verse from ' The John Bull 
Store ' will serve as an example of the laudatory effusions which were 
encored : — 

Our Joe is straight and square, and he's always played us fair 

When we've trusted him with jobs before. 
So we'll help him all we can, and we'll find that Joey's plan 

Is the saving of the John BuU Store. 

In * The Orchid ' at the Gaiety Theatre an actor, made up to resemble 

Mr. Chamberlain, was applauded when he sang : — 

Pushful, pushful, I'm so pushful^ 
First I take the bird in hand, 
And then I catch the bushful. 

Jingle in praise of ' Joe ' was introduced into the pantomimes ; and. 
an actress went on tour with a monologue puffing his poUcy. The 
monologue was recited before the drop-scene, and at the end of each 
verse the curtain was raised to disclose a large portrait of the Tariff 
Reformer and a chorus of working men in their shirt-sleeves. 

Day after day, and week after week, the newspapers contained 
articles on the various aspects of the controversy. The propagandist 
was as fortunate as usual in securing the support of the press. Several 
of the Unionist journals which began by attacking his policy were 
purchased in his interest : others modified their opposition ; and 
one or two veered round to his cause. Only a few, with the 
Spectator at their head, remained steadily and doggedly against tariff 
' reform,' as tariff reaction was called. As a rule the Unionist press- 
gradually assisted, or acquiesced in, the new movement. On the 
other hsind, for a couple of years Mr. Chamberlain received no aid 
from any statesman of the front rank. No one of more importance 
than Mr. Chaplin threw in his lot with his cause, and Mr. ChapliiL 
prejudiced it in the eyes of waverers by lifelong Protectionist sym- 
pathies. At the new crisis in his career the lack of able lieutenants 
told heavily against the promoter of programmes. 

Nevertheless the combined opposition of Unionist Free Traders- 
and Liberals failed to modify his attitude. He who had fought Mr. 
Gladstone was not alarmed by Mr. Asquith or Mr. Ritchie. 

Think you a little din can daunt mine ears ? 
Have I not in my time heard lions roar ? 

When his figures were proved inaccurate he said they were merely^ 

19 



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4590 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

illustrations ; when his arguments were disputed he emphasised them 
in a heightened manner. By great meetings he kept his views before 
the country. At Newcastle, on October 20, he insisted that ' without 
these preferential tariffs you will not hold the empire together.' Next 
day at Tynemouth he repeated his latest recantation. He admitted 
again that he had changed his opinion, but contended that circum- 
stances had entirely altered in twenty years. Other nations had grown 
up under the protective system, and instead of being ruined had pros- 
pered more and more. This was his main defence for his repudiation 
of the doctrines of Mr. Cobden ; and so, from town to town, he carried 
the wintry message that our — 

Trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay. 

A reasoned and skilful defence of Free Trade which assisted to 
educate public opinion was given by Lord George Hamilton, who at 
the close of a long official career in the Conservative party rose above 
his reputation. During the previous twenty-five years the average 
rate of wages had increased 12 per cent., and the price of the principal 
foods consimied by the wage-earning classes had fallen about 45 per 
-cent. It was. Lord George argued, this combination — a small actual 
rise in wages, and a great increase in the purchasing power of every 
shilling earned — ^which had enabled us to hold our own in the industrial 
competition of the world, and at the same time to clothe, feed and 
maintain the artisan and labourer at the highest standard of comfort 
that prevailed in any country in Europe. Following Mr. Cham- 
berlain to Newcastle, Mr. Asquith in turn replied to his contention that 
trade had been stagnant for the last thirty years ; he pointed out that 
we did the carrying service for foreign countries, and in thirty years 
our tonnage of ships had increased by 100 per cent., and in proportion 
had been the increase in the volume of trade done. At the same time 
he said with authority that Liberals did not wrap themselves in the 
inertia of a complaisant optimism ; they wanted a reconstruction of 
the educational system from bottom to top, a grappling with the 
problems of the tenure and taxation of land, both in town and country, 
a substitution of insight, foresight, prudence and economy for waste, 
rashness and blundering in the forming and conduct of our national 
|X)licy. This was the Liberal alternative to tariff reform. 

An tmdertaking which Mr. Chamberlain gave at Liverpool on 
October 27 was ridiculed by his opponents. ' I pledge myself,' he 
said, ' that my proposals will not add one farthing to the cost of living 
of any family in the coimtry.' Who was he, asked his critics, that 
he should expect to bind future Governments or fiscal forces by a 
personal pledge ? In his Radical era he had refused to take a Salisbury 
on trust, and now in his Tariff days Free Traders refused to take a 



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PILGRIMAGE OF PASSION 291 

Chamberlain on trust. One of them likened his language to that of 
Jack Cade, who boasted of what he was to do * when I am king, as king 
I will be.' Mr. Chamberlain sununed up the whole matter in ' employ- 
ment ' ; he sneered at the cosmopolitan aspect of Cobdenism ; he 
appealed to the working classes against the Trades Union Congress, 
which had proved hostile ; and although, on October 27, 1881, he 
attributed the extraordinary advance of the shipping industry to 
our entire freedom of trade, now on October 27, 1903, he contended 
that because we could not retaliate against foreign bounties and sub- 
sidies, British shipping was not progressing so fast as foreign. 

Among the veterans who donned their armour to fight the foe from 
Birmingham was Sir William Harcourt, in his old age one of the most 
influential and best-loved figxires in Liberalism. Although his strength 
was failing, his blows were still hard and sure. He dealt with Mr. 
Chamberlain's contention that other countries had increased their 
exports more rapidly in proportion than we had. ' Of course 
they have,' he said ; ' a baby grows quicker than a man ; they are 
infants in trade compared with us ; we are the old-established firm ; 
if a firm with millions adds another million it cannot say that it 
has increased by 100 per cent. ; but a firm which has £100 and adds 
to it £200 has increased at the rate of 200 per cent.' Sir William 
dealt also with the complaint that our imports greatly exceeded 
our exports. ' Our imports have to pay, first of all, for our ex- 
ports ; secondly, for the interest on the money that has been lent 
to foreign countries ; and thirdly, for the carriage of the goods 
which is conveyed for all the world by the shipping and mercantile 
marine of England.' On this point Mr. Chamberlain had answered 
himself twenty-two years previously. Ridiculing the idea of increasing 
our exports by lessening our imports he said in 1881 : ' It seems that 
if we wish to attain the height of national prosperity we can do so if 
we only contrive somehow or another to reverse the conditions which 
Mr. Micawber laid down as constituting the height of individual felicity. 
Mr. Micawber said that if your incomings were £20 and your outgoings 
£19 195. 6d, the result was happiness, and that if your incomings were 
£20 and your outgoings £20 os. 6d. the result was misery. This is 
precisely the result which the Fair Traders desire to produce in our 
national relations.' 

The comedy of the two loaves was produced by Mr. Chamberlain 
before a huge audience at Birmingham on November 4, when his 
speech reminded an admiring critic of the triumphs of Demosthenes. 
Free Traders had gone up and down the coimtry warning the working 
classes that the new policy meant a little loaf. Taking advantage of 
some exaggeration in their case, the skilful platform performer got a 
friend, an Alderman, to bake two loaves, such as would be sold at the 



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292 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

same price with the tax and without it. That is to say, he wished to 
illustrate the exact difference which would be made in the size, if the 
proposed duty on com were followed by an equivalent reduction in 
the quantity of bread. With a dramatic air he displayed on the 
rostrum the two loaves. ' I do not know,' he said, ' whether your eyes 
are better than mine, but when I first saw these loaves, I was absolutely 
unable to tell which was the big one. * Of course the eyes of his audience 
failed to see what his could not see. On this occasion, flatly contra- 
dicting what he had said in the same place eighteen years before, Mr. 
Chamberlain denied that Protection was immediately followed by 
starvation and destitution, or that Free Trade necessarily brought 
prosperity. He disputed the assertion that Protection was the cause 
of the bad trade before the repeal of the Com Laws, and he declared 
that the subsequent prosperity of the country had very little to do 
with the introduction of Free Trade. 

' To go the whole hog,' a phrase used by Lord Goschen at Liverpool, 
became one of the battle cries. While prepared to acquiesce in retalia- 
tion in certain circumstances, those who agreed with him, he said, were 
not prepared to go the whole hog.* The phrase provided a popular 
description for the thorough-going Chamberlainites, who became known 
even in the House of Commons as whole hoggers. Lord Hugh Cecil 
contrasted with them the * little piggers ' or moderate men who sup- 
ported the temporizing policy of the Government, but although ' little 
piggers ' amused the House, the name did not share the favour of 
the other phrase. Lord Goschen nettled the Tariff Reformer by the 
keenness and vigour of his criticism. ' On a former occasion we 
differed,' said Mr. Chamberlain, with an allusion to the struggle over 
the franchise and the unauthorized programme ; ' and I think it is a 
good augury that on that occasion I proved to be right and Lord 
Goschen proved to be wrong.' Nevertheless, his ancient adversary, 
in a sanguine, confident spirit, although without rancour, steadily 
went on refuting economic fallacies. 

The relations of the Prime Minister with Mr. Chamberlain continued 
to be the subject of constant speculation and discussion during the 
autmnn campaign. Their correspondence in September had led to the 
belief that they were in sympathy, if not in co-operation, and frequent 
reference was made to the comparison which The Times had drawn 
between the two statesmen and a pair of accomplished whist-players, 
but while Tariff Reformers assumed that the Prime Minister was theit 
secret friend, the moderate Free Fooders clung to him for support. A 
compact or tmce, arranged between Mr. Balfour and Sir Michael Hicks- 
Beach, was celebrated at Bristol in November, when the Conservative 

^ The old ostler in The Romany Rye said when one became a highwaymaa 
there was nothing like ' going the whole hog.' 



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PILGRIMAGE OF PASSION 293 

chief visited the city which the latter represented. Here he advocated 
merely the power of retaliation ; and his friend, although a professed 
Free Trader, declared himself in favour of this policy. Strange to 
say, Mr. Chamberlain, speaking at Cardiff a week later, ' accepted ' 
Sir Michael's declaration on the footing that half a loaf was better than 
none. The Free Trader took the Prime Minister's arm to detach him 
from the Tariff Reformer, but the Tariff Reformer kept hold of the 
other arm and tried to look as if he were pleased to see him in such 
company. How happy the statesman with unsettled affections would 
have been with either, if the other were away ! 

Fresh cause of irritation was given to the Unionist Free Traders 
by a taunting comparison. Rigby in Coningsby denounces as un- 
English all the views with which he is not in agreement, and in the 
same spirit Mr. Chamberlain stigmatized an argument used by fiscal 
opponents as a craven argument, worthy of the Little Englander. 
Early in 1899 Mr. Chamberlain described the ' Little Englanders ' 
as men who honestly beHeve that the expansion of this country carries 
with it obligations which are out of proportion to its advantages. Later 
he alluded to them as * friends of every country but their own,' and 
in platform controversy the phrase bore the more offensive meaning. 
The taunting comparison was at once hotly resented by Mr. Ritchie, 
who said it was little short of an outrage. * It inflicted,' he said, ' a 
slur on men who were actuated by as high motives as Mr. Chamberlain 
was.' Mr. Morley too disclaimed the description. * I am not a Little 
Englander,' he protested, ' but I am an Old Englander, and old England 
knew very well what she was about.' The member for West Birming- 
ham, however, persisted in treatingthecontroversy as a test of intelligent 
patriotism ; and in reply to protests from Unionist Free Traders, he 
said sneeringly ' they seem to me to be Imperialists in theory and 
Little Englanders in practice.' Sir Michael Hicks-Beach retorted in 
his biting manner that he was an Imperialist when Mr. Chamberlain's 
doctrines did not go beyond Birmingham ; and Lord Rosebery also 
claimed to be an Imperialist at least as old as Mr. Chamberlain and 
at least as sincere. 

Unionist colleagues by whose side he had fought in many 
battles took part in an imposing demonstration against his new policy, 
held under the auspices of the Unionist Free Food League, on November 
24. This meeting, in the Queen's Hall, recalled the gathering in Her 
Majesty's Opera House in April, 1886, at which the Duke of Devon- 
shire appeared for the first time on a public platform in the company 
of Lord Salisbury. Several statesmen who accompanied the Duke 
to the Opera House were with him also in the Queen's Hall. In the 
long interval they had become old and weary, but though the Duke's 
hair had grown grey * the finger stroke of Time ' was scarcely per- 



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294 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

ceptible on his forehead ; his face retained a healthy hue, his figure was 
erect, and his voice strong. On the platform were as many as twelve 
Unionists who had held ofl&ce. There were differences as to the extent 
to which a policy of retaliation might be pushed. Sir Michael Hicks- 
Beach going further in this direction than some of the others, but all 
were opposed to a protective duty on food. It was with a stem air that 
their leader denounced Mr. Chamberlain's propaganda. The Prime 
Minister had said that the taxation of food was not the policy of the Gov- 
ernment . 'And I hope to Heaven it never will be ! ' exclaimed the Duke. 

It was as ' a drag on the wheel ' that the chief of the Cavendishes 
now figured in the picturesque language of the statesman who formerly 
caUed him Rip Van Winkle. Mr. Chamberlain had recently said : 
' Things move quickly nowadays. Maybe the Duke is also moving 
with them. His last intimation was that he was not opposed to the 
Government, but he hoped to be a drag on the wheel. That is a 
curious ambition.' The Duke, at the Queen's Hall meeting, good- 
himiouredly showed the usefulness of his new function : ' The drag 
is not an unimportant part of the mechanism of a motor-car or loco- 
motive. It is an important, and sometimes a necessary part. More 
than ever it is necessary now, when the engine-driver has got down and 
allowed another to take his place, and when the other is running the 
locomotive at full speed down the line and against all the signals.' 
A palpable hit at both Mr. Balfour and Mr. Chamberlain ! 

' Are you to take foreign tariffs lying down ? ' the advocate of the 
new policy had asked. ' Lying down ' became one of the familiar 
phrases of the fiscal school ; it was tossed backward and forward. 
Lord Goschen played with it in the Queen's Hall : ' What do these 
warlike champions recommend us to do ? To stand up ? No ! but 
to crouch behind a wall. British trade was no longer to saUy forth 
and meet the foe, but to build fiscal martello towers around the coast 
and arm them with gims which were spiked forty years ago ! ' Thus 
the veterans fired into one another, and although there was not yet 
so much bitterness as in the case of the Home Rule split, gibes were 
sometimes used which caused resentment. For instance, Mr. Cham- 
berlain ridiculed the idea of Mr. Ritchie being accepted as a great 
financial authority merely because he happened to be under the tuition 
of the permanent ofi&cials of the Treasury for a few months. Natiually 
the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer regarded this remark as a personad 
affront. It was an offence also to the officials whose new political 
chief was Mr. Chamberlain's son. 

The appointment of a Commission, at the close of 1903, under the 
auspices of the Tariff Reform League, provoked much sarcasm. 
Serious people treated it as an infringement of the royal prerogative : 
others made fun of * King Joseph.' A newspaper announced that 



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PILGRIMAGE OF PASSION 295 

the Court would shortly be removed to Bumingham with Mr. Austen 
Chamberlain as Minister in Attendance ; another published a picture- 
of Josephus Rex, seated on the throne, wearing a crown and royal 
robes with ' our right trusty Counsellor/ Mr. Jesse Collings, behind 
the new Sovereign. The Tariff Commission was appointed to consider 
the conditions of trade, and the remedies for the alleged depression. 
It entered gravely on its elaborate inquiry, but the country arrived 
at a decision without waiting for the result of its self-imposed labours. 

Still another declaration of his new faith was made by Mr. Cham- 
berlain at Leeds on December 16. In 1882 he had contended that 
what was called one-sided Free Trade was absolutely the very best 
that could be devised with regard to British interests. Now he 
described himself as a Free Trader, in the sense that all trade should 
be free ; and he asserted that what was commonly called Free Trade 
was not fair competition. ' Give us Free Trade ; we have never had 
it,' he cried. The cry was taken up by his followers and repeated all 
over the country : ' We have never had Free Trade ; we have had 
only free imports ; we are not against Free Trade ; it is real Free Trade 
that we want.' In earlier years he had been ' unable to distinguish 
between what the Fair Traders called " real Free Trade " and what the 
rest of the world called Protection.' 

' Leam to think Imperially,' was the advice which the passionate 
pilgrim offered at the Guildhall in January, 1904. ' A brilliant scene r 
a dull speech ' was the record made of the event at the time. On 
Mr. Chamberlain's last formal visit to the City of London the streets 
were thronged with cheering people, but on this occasion there was no 
crowd, except in the Guildhall and its vicinity. He was received with 
flag-waving, with * Rule Britannia ' and the National Anthem : 
honours which brought down upon him the banter of Free Traders 
whose Sovereign was King Edward. The Board of Trade figures for 
1903, which had just been issued, with their record of progress, were 
set against the lamentations of the statesman whom Lord Rosebery 
described as a ' modem Jeremiah ' ; but, consistent in his new argument, 
he retorted that the greatness of a nation was not measured by com- 
parison with its own past but by its relative position among the 
countries of the world. We might, he said, decline as a nation, and 
yet ' wallow in comparative luxury.' His speech in the City was the 
least successful in his winter toiu*. It lacked the dash of earlier efforts. 
A sympathetic critic, explaining the restraint of the audience, remarked 
that the conditions of the meeting implied an attitude of critical 
reserve ; the appeal was rather to the intelligence than to the emotions. 
Signs of physical exhaustion were apparent in the orator's manner, 
and it was arranged that he should leave England for a holiday soon 
after the beginning of the session. 



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XL 
MANCEUVRES IN PARLIAMENT 

AT the opening of the session of 1904 the ex-Colonial Secretary 
took his seat below the gangway on the right of the Speaker. 
It was here on the same third bench that he sat during the Liberal 
Ministry of 1892-95. Now he found himself in the company of Mr. 
Chaplin, the latest and strangest ally of one who had been the bogey 
of the landed aristocracy. Almost at his elbow across the gangway 
was Sir Michael Hicks-Beach. The two statesmen might have easily 
put their heads together. Narrow, however, as was the physical 
partition, there was between them a wide political gulf. Mr. Chamber- 
lain had opponents not only confronting him but also at his side. 
This had been his experience when he sat here formerly, but then the 
opponents near him were Liberal Home Rulers, whereas now he was 
among the Unionists who had cheered him for seventeen years, and 
some of whom had become his bitter fiscal foes. 

The severest personal mortification suffered by a debater who 
seldom gave quarter was inflicted on him early in February. It was 
part of the harvest of the war, which had contributed so greatly to 
his ascendency. In the course of recrimination on a subject which 
had begun to weary the Unionists, Mr. Chamberlain recalled that a 
few months before hostilities took place Sir Henry Campbell-Banner- 
mian said there was nothing to justify military preparations, although 
he knew at that time, not merely through his own information, ' but 
through other information that came to him ' that our force in South 
Africa was not complete. This mysterious reference to ' other infor- 
mation ' gave his adversary an opportimity for playing a strong card. 
The Liberal leader had been on the outlook for such an opening, and 
he seized it eagerly. ' Does the right honourable gentleman,' he asked, 
' refer to a correspondence between himself and me ? ' Mr. Chamber- 
lain, although obviously embarrassed by the question, did not shrink 
from ' Yes.' Next day, with his permission. Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman gave an account of the conversation recorded in chapter 
XXXI. of this volume. The point of it was that in June, 1899, a few 
months before the sending of the ultimatum, Mr. Chamberlain said : 
' We know that those fellows (the Boers) won't fight. We are pla3dng 
a game of bluff.' 

296 



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MANCEUVRES IN PARLIAMENT 297 

An enormous sensation was produced by a disclosure which threw 
a fierce light on events preceding the war. Radicals and Nationalists 
expressed pent-up hatred in mocking cheers at what they considered 
the recklessness and miscalculation of an ambitious imperialist. With 
brain and body wearied by his fiscal propaganda, he was disconcerted 
by the exposiu-e which he had brought upon himself. He stated, 
amid jeering laughter, that he could not charge his memory with a 
contradiction of the use of the word ' blufl,' although it was not one 
he was likely to have used. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman pointed 
out that inunediately after their conversation he told one or two of his 
colleagues the gist of it and reported the same phrase to them ; and his 
recollection was confirmed with a nod or a cheer by Mr. Asquith and 
Mr. Bryce. On the Unionist side, however, Mr. Chamberlain was 
heartily applauded when he declared that he had no idea whatever of 
bluffing in the sense in which the leader of the Opposition considered 
he had used the word. The wonder was that he gave his antagonist 
an opportimity of disclosing the incident. Sir Henry had several 
times set a trap. For instance, on October 15, 1903, he said : ' I 
have heard of the Minister of a great State who tried to bluff a neigh- 
bouring state with which he was engaged in n^otiation.' The word 
' bluff ' was then obviously in his mind as one damaging to the 
chief champion of the war policy, and now he was fully justified in 
quoting it in reply to the taunt against himself, supported as that was 
by reference to a private conversation. Mr. Chamberlain's conduct 
indicated less than his customary alertness of mind. 

Another blow fell on him the same evening. ' The truest and 
most unselfish of friends,' Mr. Powell Williams, suffered at the House 
of Commons an apoplectic seizure, which proved fatal. Mr. Williams 
was one of his confidential colleagues in Birmingham life and in 
political work, and was Chairman of the Management Conunittee of 
the Liberal Unionist Association. The sudden stroke was felt keenly 
by a statesman whose mourning inspired Mr. Morley with a tribute 
to his friendship. The day after the funeral, which he was not able 
to attend, he left for Egypt. People who met him at this period 
realized that he was physically exhausted and that he could not add 
much more to the incessant work of a long and strenuous life. But to 
use his own phrase he was ' not dead yet.' 

The sessions of 1904 and 1905, so far as the fiscal question was 
concerned, were spent by the Government in the marking of time. A 
direct issue was evaded by the Prime Minister with a dexterity which 
foolish flatterers applauded, while Mr. Chamberlain refrained from 
forcing a crisis. The downfall of the Administration was predicted 
month after month, in spring and smnmer, for a couple of years, but 
still the Unionist ministers continued to sit on the Treasury bench. 



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298 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

For the prolongation of their existence they were indebted in a great 
measure to Sir Michael Hicks-Beach. Although some of his friends 
were very uneasy, the Tory Free Trader appeared to be content with 
the assurances he had received from Mr. Balfour. ' In any circum- 
stances,' he said on one occasion, ' I should not desire to replace His 
Majesty's present Government by right honourable gentlemen opposite, 
and I will never desert the Government of my doimtry at such a crisis 
as the present may be in our foreign affairs.'* 

Sir Michael Hicks-Beach had, during a long career, played a con- 
spicuous part in Parliament, but more than once when he reached a 
dominating position he showed he was not of the stuff of which great 
leaders are made. His deeds were seldom so firm as his words, and 
although he carried the character of a dour, unbending man, he flinched 
at a crisis. Lord Randolph Chiu-chill forced him to the front in 1885, 
in order that he might supersede Sir Stafford Northcote in the leadership 
of the party, and in 1886 he gave way to Lord Randolph. In his 
last office as Chancellor of the Exchequer he was, by his own confession, 
overruled in financial matters by his colleagues, and in resisting the 
approaches to a system of preferential tariffs he was less staunch than 
his successor, Mr. Ritchie, whose Parliamentary reputation did not 
stand nearly so high as his own. 

Tall, thin, reticent, and moody, with quick temper and sharp 
speech, fair-minded and dignified, a country gentleman bom to poli- 
tics, a strong Tory, tossed between fiscal convictions and party inclina- 
tions. Sir Michael was in these latter days a curiously lonely, discon- 
tented figure. He had persuaded himself that the Prime Minister 
was unfriendly to the Birmingham policy ; he supported him in office, 
in the belief that time was against the Tariff Reformer ; and the 
action of Conservatives known as the Free Fooders, who were neither 
Cobdenites nor Chamberlainites, were pleased to suppress their scruples 
and to follow so easy an example. Only twenty-nine Unionists 
went so far at the opening of the session of 1904 as to vote with the 
liberals for an amendment condenming any return to Protective 
duties. Of these a section drifted to the other side of the House ; 
the others continued to act with the Government, while opposing 
Preference, based on the taxation of food. 

A skit on the Chamberlain propaganda which greatly amused its 
opponents was given in a speech by Mr. Asquith in the form of a short 
manual of Protection for Beginners : — 

What is Free Trade ?— A shibboleth. 

By whom was it invented ? — By one Adam Smith, a professor ; but a later 
writer, Carlyle, is a much safer guide. 

How then did it come to be adopted as part of the policy of this country ? — 

^ Our ally, Japan, was at war with Rtisiia. 



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MAN(EUVRES IN PARLIAMENT 299 

Through the machinations of a middle-class conspiracy, headed by one Cobden». 
whose main object was to lower the wages of labour. 

How has the superstition managed to survive ? — Because there are people 
simple and short-sighted enough to imagine that in foreign trade it is well to 
receive more than you give. 

How have we escaped ruin ? — By the mercy of Providence. 
How are we to set ourselves right ? — By waiting for the report of the Tariff 
Commission. 

The Prime Minister, in March, defined his position by saying that 
it was not proposed to deal with the fiscal question during the currency^ 
of the present ParUament and that the poUcy of the Government did 
not include the taxation of food. This formula eased the consciences 
of Free Fooders and at the same time Tariff Reformers winked at it 
because it did not bind the Government to hostility to their cause 
after the then existing ParUament. The one section continued jeal- 
ously to watch the other. When a Conservative Free Fooder proposed 
to meet a Liberal motion with an amendment explicitly declaring that 
the Government policy did not include ' either a general system of 
protection or a preference based on the taxation of food ' the Tariff 
Reformers threatened revolt, and the amendment in which the party 
managers had acquiesced was abandoned. Neither section was pre- 
pared to take the responsibility of tmning Mr. Balfour out, unless forced 
by his decided action. The Liberals hoped, and expected, that the 
one or the other would lose patience, but the Prime Minister, now to this- 
and now to that side leaning, was equal to every emergency. 

When Mr. Chamberlain returned from Egypt in the middle of April 
with bronzed face and improved health, politicians speculated on his 
attitude with respect to the time-serving Ministry. ' What will he 
do with it ? ' asked the Spectator, The question was answered by 
events. His son's first budget was produced ; he would not dismiss 
the Government, even if he could, so long as it was before the House ; 
and the bill embodying it was delayed till an unusually late period of 
the session. Instead of risking an open quarrel with Mr. Balfour by 
action in Parliament he devoted himself to organization and to the- 
advocacy of his cause on the platform. 

A taimt of cowardice — ^not, it was explained, physical cowardice 
— ^was levelled at the Tariff Reform leader by Lord Hugh Cecil, who was 
sitting in front of him, on May i8, in a debate which produced angry 
recrimination between the different sections of Unionists. Lord Hugh, 
conunenting on his refusal to bring his fiscal policy to a straight issue 
in the House of Commons, likened him to Bob Acres, whose courage 
was shown elsewhere than on the field of battle. Mr. Chamberlain 
in an offended tone said he regarded moral cowardice as much worse- 
even than physical cowardice, and he boasted, with truth, that through- 



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300 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

out his career he had never been unwilling to express his views in the 
plainest terms whether they were popular or unpopular. Feeling 
on the Unionist side ran very high throughout the summer, and even 
some of the Free Fooders who voted with the Government betrayed 
resentment against the disturber of party peace, while the thorough- 
going adherents of Cobden's doctrines availed him on every possible 
occasion. On the other hand he secured the sympathy of the great 
majority of the party. At a banquet at which he was entertained on 
his sixty-eighth birthday, 177 members were present, and twenty- 
three others had intended, if they were able, to join in the celebration. 
All the hosts wore Mr. Chamberlain's favourite orchid, but the flower 
was not a badge of rebellion. ' Above all,' he protested, ' we are the 
friends and admirers of the Prime Minister.' 

In organization Mr. Chamberlain lost no time or opportunity. 
His policy was adopted by many Conservative associations throughout 
the coimtry and he captured the Liberal Unionist machinery. In such 
a contest the head of the Cavendishes was no match for the inventor 
of the English Caucus. The Duke of Devonshire's position as President 
of the Liberal Unionist Association, which had done so much to resist 
Home Rule, became intolerable, seeing that it gave support to branches 
Avhich passed resolutions in favour of a poUcy of which he disapproved. 
He desired its dissolution, but in May 1904 it was reconstructed on lines 
agreeable to Mr. Chamberlain who succeeded to the chief place, the 
new Council reconmiending preferential arrangements between the 
colonies and the mother-country. At a meeting held in the Royal 
Albert Hall on July 14, to celebrate this transformation, four Cabinet 
Ministers were on the platform. The fact that two of them. Lord 
Lansdowne and LordSelbome, took ofiice in a Council which supported 
a policy not within the ofiicial programme, led to debates in both 
Houses. Their defence was that they acted as individuals, and that 
the Government were not committed. 

Controversies on the introduction of yellow laboiu" into the Rand 
increased the virulence of the session. Reflections were cast on Mr. 
•Chamberlain's administration by Liberals who complained that his 
South African policy was resulting merely in the enrichment of the 
mine-owners. By letter and speech he concurred in the ordinance 
for the recruitment and importation of Chinese, which had been passed 
by the Transvaal Legislative Council, and sanctioned by his successor, 
Mr. Lyttelton. When he was in Johannesburg he expressed repug- 
nance at the idea of the employment of yellow labour but imdertook 
that no opposition would be offered by the imperial authorities if it 
were desired by the great majority of the white inhabitants of the 
colonies; and now he assiuned that the Government had satisfied 
themselves that this condition was fulfilled. The ministers main- 



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MANOEUVRES IN PARLIAMENT 301 

tained that on account of the shortage of natives for the mines the 
introduction of Chinese was necessary to avert a financial crisis* 
Liberals, on the other hand, denied that it was necessary or that the 
people of the Transvaal had been consulted in an adequate manner. 
Dislike of a system with the taint of slavery added to the impopularity 
of the Government, and politicians continued to hint that a foreboding 
on this subject may have influenced Mr. Chamberlain in deciding ta 
escape from Downing Street. 

One of the few speeches which he deUvered in Parliament in 1904 
was on the motion to closure the Licensing Bill by compartments. 
As in the case of the Education Act, he was silent during debate on 
its merits (except on a single point in Committee), and intervened 
only to support the ' guillotine/ Although he had brought himself 
into touch with Conservative sentiment on the drink question by 
resisting Sir William Harcourt's Local Veto scheme, the latest of tte 
social reforms of the Unionist Ministry could not have been quite 
agreeable to him. Authority for reduction of licences on grounds of 
public policy was transferred from the local magistrates (except in 
great boroughs) to the Quarter Sessions. To this change the Liberals 
were strongly opposed ; and although the compensation for loss of 
licence was to be provided from a fund raised by the trade, they com- 
plained tliat the system shackled the State and that the number of 
reductions would be limited by the amount of the fund, instead of 
the fund being determined by the number of reductions required in 
the public interest. Another objection to the bill was that it would 
give a perpetuity tenure to a very large number of licences. Liberals 
demanded a time limit for compensation, and increased duties on 
licences, but Mr. Chamberlain, who in 1885 ^ was willing that the whole 
of this great question should be left absolutely to the local authorities, 
gave the Opposition no support. On the contrary, he adopted the 
familiar device of an attack on the extremists. He recalled that his 
first considerable speech in the House was devoted to temperance 
reform ; he declared that he had not in the slightest degree changed 
his opinions; he preserved an intense sense of the importance of 
reform ; and the fact that practically nothing of substantial importance 
had been done by legislation was, he held, due mainly to the extreme 
views of men who absolutely refused to adopt ' that great principle 
in politics ' — that half a loaf is better than no bread. 

Meantime his fiscal propaganda underwent a change. At the outset 
he was moved by the belief that his policy was the only method by 
which we could secure a real union in the empire. If it were merely 
a question of trade, as he told Mr. Bonar Law on the day after his 
first Birmingham speech, he would have left it to younger men. Grad- 
* Trowbridge, October 14, 1885. 



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302 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

nally, however, his propaganda showed a tendency to turn from great 
imperial objects to pure protection ; and in the course of his campaign 
he used arguments * pick'd from the worm-holes of long-vanish'd 
daj^,' sneering at ' the idol of the free importers ' and at ' the super- 
stition for an antiquated policy good enough in its day.' 

The agricultural virtues of tariff reform were expounded by its 
leader in August, 1904. At a meeting at Wdbeck, held in the Riding 
School of the Duke of Portland, and attended by about 13,000 persons, 
the presence of a great number of territorial magnates gave occasion 
for many gibes at the statesman who had derided those who ' toil not 
neither do they spin.'* Here he renewed his proposal to put a two- 
shilling duty on every kind of com except maize, which was an impor- 
tant feeding stuff ; such a duty on flour as would result in the whole of 
the milling of wheat being done in this country ; and a duty of five 
per cent, on meat, dairy produce, butter, cheese and preserved milk, 
as well as on poultry, eggs, vegetables and fruit. These duties would, 
■as he contended, be paid by the foreigner, and the money thus raised 
would go to reduce the cost of tea and sugar — ^and he hoped tobacco. 
His policy, he promised, would result in more profit for the farmer, 
more employment for the labourer and cheaper food for the family. 
Two months later, at Luton, he addressed another great meeting with 
another Duke (His Grace of Bedford) in the chair, and enthusiasm was 
excited among a portion of the audience by his programme. 

A couple of days before this engagement the Prime Minister, who 
went on refining while others were acting, hurriedly intervened with 
a speech for which occasion was found at a club dinner in Edinburgh, 
declaring that he was not a Protectionist, and that if the party took 
up a Protectionist line he could not with advantage be its leader. Mr. 
Chamberlain, at Luton, also light-heartedly repudiated the name of 
Protectionist. He was still determined to carry the Prime Minister 
with him, but the audience slyly laughed at his repudiation and ap- 
plauded the idea that foreigners should pay a ' toll ' to us for keeping 
open to them the greatest market in the world. A concession which 
he obtained with regard to the summoning of a colonial conference 
consoled him for any protest. Punch, in November, exhibited Mr. 
Balfour and Mr. Chsunberlain as the fiscal freaks. Bohemian freak- 
twins were appearing at a music hall and it was difiicult to know 
whether to speak of them as one or two persons. The fiscal twins, 
in the attire of music-hall performers, with bodies united but with 
separate heads and limbs, sang the song of the tariffs. ' Now then, 
Artura,' said Josepha, ' take the time from me.' The popular idea, 

^ Circumstances had changed since 1874, when he mockingly said he did not 
«xpect to find the nobility and gentry flocking into Sheffield to hear him address 
a meeting in the square. 



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MANCEUVRES IN PARLIAMENT 303 

in spite of occasional disclaimers, was that the Prime Minister was 
taking the time from his ex-coUeague. 

Happy expression was given by the same satirist to another aspect 
of the controversy soon after Mr. Chamberlain's return from a sojourn 
on the Continent, when the official statistics for November showed a 
fresh monthly record in our foreign commerce. The speciahst in 
trade diseases, as he draws oil his gloves turns to Dr. Chaplin and in- 
quires concerning the state of the poor British sufferer. ' DebiUty 
nicely maintained ? ' he asks. ' On the contrary,' says the family 
doctor, ' I'm afraid you'll find him in a deplorably robust condition/ 
The periodical returns by the Board of Trade were indeed the most 
effective arguments against the new proposals. Mr. Chamberlain, 
however, did not abandon the effort to reconcile them with his pessi- 
mism. Although 1904 was a record year even in exports (which were 
the favourite Protectionist test of prosperity), he pointed out that in 
the same period pauperism had increased, crime had increased, and 
the number of people who were by no fault of their own out of employ- 
ment, also had increased. He was determined to be gloomy. 

He was also determined to repress the joy of his exulting opponents. 
Methods of vulgarity were attributed by him in a speech at Limehouse 
to the leaders of the Liberal party. This was a variation of the 
' methods of barbarism ' with which Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 
had reproached the Government in the conduct of the war. The 
' First Gentleman in Birmingham,' as he had been called by a colleague, 
was exceedingly severe in his strictures on Sir Henry's deportment. 
^ I ask him,' said Mr. Chamberlain, * if he cannot be a patriot to try 
to be a gentleman.' A few days later, in the same place, the censured 
statesman reproached his censor for a little failing in the matter of 
temper, which he attributed to the fact that his stock-in-trade as an 
agitator had gone. The alleged vulgarity consisted chiefly of a sug- 
gestion that the promoters of Tariff Reform desired to feather their 
own nests. In scouting this idea the ex-Colonial Secretary appealed 
to his personal sacrifices. When men gave up power, office and 
salary, they were not very likely, as he said, to make a profitable busi- 
ness of their political work. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman retorted 
by pointing to the Tariff Commission and sa5dng that certain members 
of it were selected because the industries with which they were con- 
cerned were thought likely to benefit by Protection. Against Mr. 
Chamberlain himself there was no insinuation. 

The session of 1905 was marked in fiscal annals by the devices and 
contrivances of the Prime Minister for avoiding such an issue as would 
expose the split in his party. He played for time, and in his playing 
he was as graceful as it was possible to be in such a game. At Manchester, 
in January, taking up a challenge thrown down by Mr. Morley, he put 



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304 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

his views on half a sheet of notepaper. In this historic and futile 
document he expressed a desire for a freedom of action which was im- 
possible while we held ourselves bound by the maxim that no taxation 
should be imposed except for revenue ; and secondly, he desired 
closer commercial union with the colonies. Adroit words could not 
take the place of convictions. The half sheet of notepaper did not 
simplify the controversy. It was interpreted differently by the 
different sects, each professing to be pleased. When Mr. Asquith 
submitted a motion to the House of Commons demanding an appeal 
to the coimtry on the issue, Mr. Chamberlain declared that there was 
not a single point of principle in any of Mr. Balfour's speeches from 
which he differed, and at the same time Lord Hugh Cecil, as the 
champion of the Tory Free Traders, was apparently content with the 
maintenance of his cousin in ofl&ce. 

Amazing tactics, on which the bold fighter subsequently poured 
scorn, were adopted by the Government when liberals by the luck 
of the ballot obtained opportunities for challenging their views on fiscal 
policy. A motion against preferential duties having been brought 
forward on March 8, the great Tariff Reformer himself was found 
' cowering behind the cover of the previous question,' which was inter- 
posed from the Treasury bench. A fortnight later, when protective 
duties were challenged, a more imusual contrivance was resorted to 
by the Prime Minister. Amid the jeers of his opponents he annoimced 
that the Government and their supporters would abstain from voting 
on abstract resolutions dealing with a policy which was not before 
Parliament. Their flight from the House was likened by Lord Hugh 
Cedl to the retreat from Moscow ; and the result was that the Liberal 
declaration against Protection was carried by 254 votes to 2. 
When a motion against retahation was next submitted only a few 
Unionists out of the strong force which was formerly so vahant attended 
the sitting, and they sUpped out before the division; so that Mr. 
Balfour's official policy was condemned nemine contradicenie. Still 
another boycott being practised in the case of another debate, the 
Commons recorded resolutions against every phase of new fiscal 
doctrine. Although the propagandist silently took part in these 
flights and dodges, he told his constituents in the recess that such 
tactics were ' more himwliating to ourselves as a great party than any 
I can recollect in the course of my poUtical experience.' ' I was afraid 
of my friends,' retorted Mr. Balfour. 

While Mr. Chamberlain's policy was thus trifled with by the 
Government, severe reflections were cast on his colonial statesmanship^ 
on accoimt of the failure or delay of the Rand financiers to fulfil their 
promise. The arrangement was understood to be that we were to 
lend ;f35,ooo,ooo for the development of the conquered territories,, 



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MANCEUVRES IN PARLIAMENT 305 

and that £30,000,000 was to be raised by them as a contribution to 
the cost of the war. We had carried out our part of the bargain, and 
the Government were reminded several times that the men with 
whom Mr. Chamberlain negotiated at Johannesburg had not dis- 
charged theirs. He was ridiculed for bringing home ' Aladdin and 
Monte Cristo stories/ and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach cruelly remarked 
that he had reconunended the acceptance of £30,000,000 instead of 
pressing for a larger contribution on the plea that a bird in the hand 
was worth two in the bush. His successor at the Colonial Office 
preached patience, and he himself said on May 24 that it was most 
offensive to assume that the financiers did not mean to carry out their 
obligations. The doubts of Radicals, however, were not dispelled, 
and the famous tour in South Africa lost its glamour. 

The AUens Bill, which was the chief legislative measure of 1905, 
was boldly treated by Mr. Chamberlain as if it were a branch of his own 
new policy. Although its responsible authors denied that it had a 
protective object, the Fiscal Reformer insisted on praising it as an 
effort to protect the British workman against underpaid ahens. There 
was only a short step, in his view, between such a bill as this and a 
measure which he hoped to see introduced to prevent the goods made 
by underpaid labour abroad from coming into competition with our 
own. Ministers were badgered on accoimt of this embarrassing sup 
port, and Mr. Balfour gratified the Liberals by sa3dng he did not 
Teg^d the exclusion of undesirable aliens as a branch of the fiscal 
question. The remark sounded like a snub to a pushful partner. 



20 



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XLI 
DISRUPTION AND DISASTER 

THE fiscal issue, although disaster did not follow so swiftly as in 
the case of tiie introduction of Home Rule, cost the party of 
the statesman who raised it an enormous price in personnel. For 
several years it divided leading Unionists into different groups, several 
separating themselves from the official organization, and a larger num- 
ber substituting a sullen indifference for cordial support. Sir Michael 
HicksrBeach was probably influenced by ' fiscaUtis ' in deciding not to 
stand again for election to the House of Commons ; Ifr. Ritchie and 
Lord George Hamilton abandoned the attempt to retain their seats ; 
and many other respected, experienced and influential Conservatives 
refused to face a contest with dissension in their local associations. 
Bitter controversies among members lowered the prestige of the party 
in Parliament, and in the country the intrigues and quarrels of the 
rivals for the control of the machinery impaired its efficiency. The 
popularity of the Government fell steadily, and bye-election after bye- 
election was lost. Still more significant and weakening was the con- 
version of young and able men to Liberalism. Qumsy army projects 
and Chinese labour contributed to this process, but the chief agency 
was Mr. Chamberlain's propaganda, assisted as it was by the attitude of 
the Prime Minister. 

So rarely do successive generations of a family show equal distinc- 
tion in politic^ that we still wonder at the two Pitts. Mr. ^^nston 
Churchill, who entered Parliament with a rich political inheritance, 
gave proof before he was thirty of ability to renew his father's fame. 
His instinct for the game at St. Stephen's, and his audacity in plajdng 
it, were equal to Lord Randolph's, and he became a still greater master 
of invective. Mr. Churchill was driven from the Unionist side by the 
intolerance of colleagues who rather than listen to denunciation of 
ministers by the son of a former leader withdrew from their benches 
or shouted like angry apprentices in a theatre gallery. In May, 1904, 
the young man took his seat on the Liberal side, and he was followed by 
sev^^ others, including Major Sedy, whose earnestness was equally 
unsuccessful in securing a hearing for protests against the proceedings 
of the Government. On the other hand Lord Hugh Cecil, the most bril- 
liant son of the Marquis of SaUsbury, who had been gathered to his 

306 



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DISRUPTION AND DISASTER 307 

fathers at Hatfield, although closely associated with Mr. Churchill in 
fiscal affairs, could not break from his party. By Free Traders within 
its ranks he was bid aspire to the leadership, and he in turn appealed 
to political friends not to link Toryism with Protection. Questions 
affecting Church and schools were sufficient to deter him from changing 
sides. 

Personal antipathy to Mr. Chamberlain had been revived in its 
fiercest form. Men who realized the dangers of a tax on com, and who 
recalled the solemn warnings against Protection which he uttered in 
former days, were irritated by what they considered his levity and reck- 
lessness; and animosity was increased by his scornful treatment 
of political opponents. This feeUng was displayed even in so small 
a matter as his right to a private room at the House of Conuncms. 
Surprise was expressed when it was discovered that after he ceased 
to hold an official position an apartment was still set apart for him. 
' Why should this be so ? ' asked Radicals and Nationalists. ' Was 
he not a private member ? ' This they asked in order to annoy one 
who did not spare their own feelings. Lord Balcarres, the urbane 
representative of the Office of Works, explained that he occupied the 
room as leader of the Liberal Unionists and that a similar privilege was 
enjoyed by the Chairmen of the Irish party and the Welsh. Thereupon 
those who pretended to complain of the arrangement replied that the 
Liberal Unionists were merged now with the Conservatives, and did 
not, like the Welsh or Irish, appoint a chairman or leader of their own. 
In the case of no oth^ prominent statesman would such a controversy 
have been raised. There is usually a sentiment of comradeship and 
even of generosity among Parliamentary combatants, but Mr. Cham- 
berlain provoked ungenerous passions. 

For Mr. Balfour too the feeling in those trying times became un- 
sympathetic. In the earlier years of his leadership he exercised a cer- 
tain personal charm. His dignity, his courtesy, his smile produced a 
pleasant impression, and his most objectionable proceedings excited 
in Liberals no personal resentment. With a long spell of power and 
increasing cares, however, he appeared to harden and grow callous. 
Opponents might have pitied him in the embarrassments which he owed 
to Mr. Chamberlain had it not been that their hearts were moved to 
anger and contempt by his manoeuvres. Even on his own side his 
conduct caused irritation. For a world out of joint he was not resolute 
enough. His metaphysical speeches ceased to amuse, and his clever 
tactics for concealing the deepening split in the party were applauded 
only by the friends, of mediocre ability, with whom he packed his 
Government. 

The project of a colonial conference led to one of those coi!nplex 
controversies and curious imbroglios which excite the politician and 



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3o8 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

exasperate the ordinary human being. When Mr. Chamberlain, in the 
latter days of the session of 1904, suggested the summoning of a con- 
ference on the fiscal question, the Prime Minister said he did not pro- 
pose to take any steps with that object ' at the present moment.' This 
refusal, although given in reply to another member, was regarded as a 
rebuff to the Tariff Reform leader ; and rebuffs were never meekly 
endured by a man who believed in hitting back. In the autumn Mr. 
Balfour relented. At the club dinner in Edinburgh, at which he de- 
clared he was not a Protectionist, he agreed that a conference with the 
self-governing colonies and with India should be held and that it should 
not be fettered by special views or special instructions. Tariff Re- 
formers were gratified by so important a concession and specially by 
the freedom of the conference (which would be at liberty to reconunend 
the taxation of food), but as a set-off the Prime Minister laid down the 
condition that it should be simunoned only after the dissolution of 
Parliament and that any plan it adopted should be submitted at a 
second election. This check was intended to relieve the fears of the 
Free Fooders, but for them Mr. Chamberlain had no consideration. At 
Luton, two days after Mr. Balfour spoke at Edinburgh, he described 
the promise of a conference as a great advance, but on a point of tactics 
he deplored the delay which would be caused by a double plebiscite. 
Would Mr. Balfour, every one wondered, give way on this point also ? 

Controversy on the subject was reopened in 1905 by Mr. Brodrick's 
remark that the Government proposed to hold a colonial conference on 
the subject of Preference in 1906. At once the Prime Minister was 
bombarded by the Free Traders with questions. Did he intend to 
summon a conference before the Election ? If so, would that not be a 
breach of his Edinburgh pledge ? In the most amazing of the replies 
of a perplexed statesman he pleaded that he was not bound to the 
Liberal party by what he said at Edinburgh ; and he explained also that 
when he spoke there he did not have in his mind the fact that a con- 
ference would be held automatically in 1906. On a motion for the ad- 
journment Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman called the attention of an 
agitated House to what Free Traders regarded as a breach of a plain 
pledge, and when Mr. L)^telton, instead of Mr. Balfour, rose to reply, 
the Opposition would not listen. A scene of disorder lasted for an 
hour, and was ended only by the Deputy-Speaker declaring the sitting 
at an end. In a defence of his strange conduct which he gave at a party 
meeting in the Royal Albert Hall Mr. Balfour intimated that the whole 
scheme of a double plebiscite would fall to the ground if he and his 
friends were not returned to power at the next election ; and as there 
was no expectation of a Unionist victory, the controversy which had 
raged so fiercely lost its immediate interest. 

A statement however, was made at the Albert Hall meeting which 



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DISRUPTION AND DISASTER 309 

Mr. Chamberlain interpreted in a manner very favourable to his own 
views. The Prime Minister, after expoimding the ofl5cial policy of 
Retaliation, turned to ' the other branch of the fiscal question,' and in a 
misty sentence remarked that this was ' the greatest and most impor- 
tant and — ^for reasons based mainly upon colonial sentiment — ^the most 
urgent of all the great constructive problems with which we have to 
deal.' Out of this passage Mr. Chamberlain drew something very tangi- 
ble. Speaking on the following night at St. Helen's, he found in it ' an 
official programme to which I most heartily subscribe.' He interpreted 
the oracular Mr. Balfour as having said that Tariff Reform would be 
the most important part of the Unionist policy ; that colonial prefer- 
ence was the most important part of Tariff Reform ; and that colonial 
preference would therefore be the first item in their future programme. 

Ludd, precise, emphatic speech is a valuable as well as a rare talent, 
but it is dangerous when applied to the doctrines of a priest who wishes 
to lead rival sects, and the Prime Minister's feelings may not have been 
angelic when he read the unauthorized version of what he had said. 
No sooner did the Tariff Reformers drag him forward than the Free 
Traders tried to pull him back. They raised debates in both Houses. 
The Prime Minister, greatly irritated by the jealousies of the warring 
claimants for his favour, remarked that those who wanted to know his 
views had better get them from his own speeches and not from the 
speeches of others. At the same time he said it was perfectly obvious 
that fiscal policy stood in the front of the Unionist programme ; con- 
sideration of our commercial relations with the colonies must be the 
most important part of the programme, and this necessarily involved 
the smnmoning of a free conference. Thus Mr. Chamberlain was able 
to daim that in all essentials Mr. Balfour occupied the same position as 
himself. With such manoeuvres, and with wordy contrivances which 
seemed petty and vain in the light of subsequent events, the leaders of 
the Unionist party seemed always to approach but never to reach a 
public understanding. 

As a Parliamentarian Mr. Chamberlain played an inconspicuous 
r61e since his return from South Africa. In 1904 he voted in only forty- 
eight divisions out of 341, and in 1905 in only seventy-three out of 364. 
From the time that Mr. Balfour became Prime Minister he showed Uttle 
interest in any subject except that in which he was directly concerned, 
and after the raising of the fiscal question he gave only a perfunctory 
support to the Government. He made no effort to stem the tide of un- 
popularity which was running so strongly against it. With increasing 
impatience and with a contempt for official timidity which he expressed 
to his friends, he waited for his own opportunity of an appeal to the 
country, conferring with friends in the Lobby and steadily organizing. 

A long autumn holiday was taken by Mr. Chamberlain at the dose 



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310 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

of the session of 1905, and when he returned the Tariff Reform move- 
ment was quickened. In a speech at Birmingham on November 3 he 
demanded a dissolution at the earliest possible moment. On several 
occasions during the previous eighteen months he had said that the 
sooner an election came the better he would be pleased. Now he be- 
came much more urgent. Members of the Government were talking 
of another session of the old Parliament in 1906 and of a Redistribution 
Bill, but Mr. Chamberlain was eager to get into close conflict with his 
opponents on his own subject. He told his people at Birmingham that 
he would infinitely ' rather be part of a powerful minority than a 
member of an impotent majority.' 

A resolution practically approving of his policy was carried, with 
only a few dissentients, at the meeting of the National Union of Con- 
servative and Constitutional Associations on November 14. The 
Prime Minister, confronted with this declaration, appealed to the party 
for union, but the appeal was made in vain. Several Tariff Reformers, 
including Mr. Chaplin, continued ostentatiously to push their pro- 
gramme, and their leader insisted on a forward policy. ' You must not,' 
he said at Bristol, ' suffer it to be whittled down by the timid or the 
half-hearted minority of our party. . . . No army was ever led success- 
fully to battle on the principle that the lamest man should govern the 
march.' Instead of modif3dng his views, he repeated them in the most 
uncompromising form : ' You cannot have retaliation without a general 
tariff, . . . you cannot have preference unless you will give your kins- 
men a preference on their chief products, even though these products 
include the principal part of the food of this country.' 

Ministerial journals in London treated Mr. Chamberlain's Bristol 
speech as an event which would compel Mr. Balfour to reomsider his 
position. Pretence of agreement was for a brief period cast aside. The 
most consbtent press supporter of the official policy scolded the ex- 
Colonial Secretary in a tone to which he was unaccustomed in high 
Unionist quarters. 

Circamstances (said the Daily TsUjraph), are stronger than individuals, and 
drcnmstances have at last forced Mr. Chajnberlain into open and avowed rivalry 
with the Prime Minister. An inborn taste lor nnanthorixed programmes, a 
temperament which frets and chafes in the harness of party discipline and expe- 
diency, and an entiinsiastic band of disciples, alert, able, bat rather inexperienced 
and raw, explain Mr. Chamberlain's attitude. Bat it is possible that he has 
misinterpreted the silence maintained, ander mach provocation, by Mr. Balfoar's 
supporters, in face of the attacks, depreciation and sarcasm which have been 
levelled at the leader of the Tory wing of the Unionist party, day by day, week 
by week and month by month in organs which are controlled by Mr. Cluunber- 
Iain's more injudicioas admirers. 

Naturally the Taxifi Refcmners resented this admonition. They 
boasted of the forbearance with which thty had treated the Govern- 
ment, and they declared their intention to take henceforth their own 



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DISRUPTION AND DISASTER 311 

course. Their leader himself spoke of the Prime Minister with un- 
diminished friendliness — ^with the friendliness which he professed fofr 
Mr. Gladstone when advocating an independent {H-ogranmie. ' It has 
been one of the privileges of my long political career/ he said at Oxford, 
' that I have been associated for many years with Mr. Balfour out of 
office and in office. I have been proud to work with him in Opposition. 
I have been proud to work with him and under him in the Government, 
and during the whole of that time there has never come between us any 
difierence which has in the slghtest degree affected our personal friend- 
ship or our political relations.' (In June, 1885, Mr. Gladstone was ' the 
greatest man of his time/ and in July, 1886, he was ' making an abject 
surrender to a vile conspiracy.') 

At last the dissolution, desired equally by Tariff Reformers and by 
Liberals, was secured. A dramatic protest by Lord Rosebery against a 
sympathetic allusion to Home Rule from Sir Henry Campbell-Banner- 
man encouraged Mr. Balfour in his design to throw upon his opponents 
the duty of fcnrming a Government at an inconvenient season. Mr. 
Chamberlain was well pleased by his resignation, winch took place early 
in December, and on the appeal being made to the country in January, 
1906, he spoke with his usual vigour and boldness and did what he 
could to inspirit the feebly-led Unionists. Even the organ which a 
short time previously accused him of rivalry with Mr. Balfour now 
stated that ' it is as false as it is foolish to assert that there is any dis- 
agreement ' in the party ; and except for a small section of thorough- 
going Free Traders, who were repudiated as Cobdenites, there was 
ostensible unanimity in the advocacy of fiscal or tariff reform. But 
by these vague words all who repeated them did not mean the 
same thing. 

The kaleidoscopic character of Mr. Chamberlain's own views of the 
project with which he went to the country is exhibited by the following 
statements — 

June 3, 1903. — ^I would not myself look at the matter imless I leK able to 
promifle tibiat a large scheme lor the provision of old age pensions to all who have 
been thrifty and well-conducted would be assured by a revision of our system 
of import duties. 

July 8, 1904. — ^I am a fiscal reformer mainly because I ^m an imperialist. 

November a i, 1905. — ^I give you a headline lor my policy. ... It is : 
More work for the people of this country and a closer union betw^sn the different 
parts of the empire. 

January i, 1906 (Election Address). — A policy which has for its sole objects 
increase of employment, the development ol our resources and the consolidation 
ol the empire. 

Several statesmen who had held high office in Unionist Administra- 
tions stood aside from the party conffict or cast their influence in favour 
of the Liberals. The Duke of Devonshire and Lord James of Hereford 
advised their friends not to vote for Tariff Reformers ; Sir Michael 



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312 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Hicks-Beach, who had been created a Viscount, was silent ; Lord Geoige 
Hamilton sought no seat ; Lord Goschen was almost as afraid of Radi- 
calism as of Protection, but his Free Trade arguments remained in the 
minds of voters ; Lord Balfour of Burleigh was expelled from the Con- 
stitutional Club for signing a circular in support of a Liberal candidate ; 
and although Mr. Ritchie, with a peerage just conferred upon him, died 
on the eve of the election, his protest against a food-tax was remembered. 

The followers of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who had formed a 
strong Government of all the Liberal talents except Lord Rosebery, 
entered into the contest with enthusiasm. Mr. Balfour's seat in Man- 
chester was challenged by Mr. Winston Churchill, who although only 
an Under-Secretary, attracted national attention by his candidature. 
Free Trade, hatred of Chinese labour with a taint of slavery, and oppo- 
sition to the denominational character of the recent Education Act were 
powerful factors on the Liberal side, and a great national uprising took 
place, one of its most significant features being the success of an inde- 
pendent Labour party. So much rancour and excitement prevailed at 
this crisis that there were twice rumours that Mr. Chamberlain had 
been assassinated. He was denounced as a reckless politician who for 
his own ambition was prepared to tax the bread of the poor. Bir- 
mingham stood by its celebrated citizen, but while he took his own 
regiment safe out of the battle, with its flag flying, the decision of the 
country was pronounced by a sensational majority against the late 
Admimstration, many notable Tariff Reformers falling in the fight and 
the whole Unionist force suffering — 

Ruin upon ruin, rout on rout. 

Seven of the ten members of the resigned Cabinet who sat in the 
House of Conunons were defeated, Mr. Balfour himself, with the fate 
of the Laodicean, being ejected by the constituency which he had re- 
presented for t¥^enty years. Tb^e were 369 Unionists in the House 
at the dissolution ; after the election there were only 157. Mr. 
Chamberlain was taunted by opponents and some friends with having 
wrecked another party. According to Mr. Goldwin Smith he meant 
to drive Mr. Balfour on the rocks. ' This he did. But the vessel was 
driven on the rocks too hard.'^ 

In 1886 Mr. Chamberlain had deprived the Liberals of power, and 
since then, except for a brief unhappy period, he had kept them out of 
office. Now they were avenged I 

^ Reminiscences by Goldwin Smith, 



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IXLII 
COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS AND ENEMIES 

AS a colleague Mr. Chamberlain, although suggestive and fertile in 
counsel, may have been, like Carlyle, ' gey ill to live wi'.' The 
charge of disloyalty, brought against him in turn by Nationalists, 
by estranged Radicals, and by Free Trade Conservatives, was never 
supported by any one with whom he had acted in a Cabinet. What 
colleagues complained of was not that he intrigued against them but 
that he publicly advocated his own views without regard to their feel- 
ings, and that after leaving them he commented on their proceedings 
unfairly. The Duke of Devonshire, who served with him under three 
Prime Ministers, declared in 1903 that he had always found him ' not 
only an able but a loyal colleague.' Mr. Gladstone's biography was 
searched by Mr. Chamberlain's enemies in the expectation that some 
reflection upon his conduct might be found even in its discreet pages. 
Their expectation was not gratified. The most personal allusion is in a 
letter to Lord Acton, dated January 13, 1887, and the note, although 
suggestive, is tantalizing in its vagueness. ' It is,' wrote Mr. Gladstone, 
' with much pleasure that I read your estimate of Chamberlain. His 
character is remarkable, as are in a very high degree his talents. It is 
one of my common sayings that to me characters of the political class 
are the most mysterious of all I meet, so that I am obliged to travel the 
road of hfe surrounded by an immense number of judgments more or 
less in suspense, and getting on for practical purposes as well as I 
can.' ^ Probably the mass of material placed at the disposal of Mr. 
Gladstone's biographer contained comments or allusions for which a 
journalist would have given a fortune, but their disclosure was unneces- 
sary for Mr. Morley's purpose. Mr. Chamberlain was a more facile 
colleague of the Conservatives than of the Liberals, for in the Adminis- 
tration of 1880 he was at war with the Whigs, whereas the Salisbury 
Government was disturbed by no sectional rivalry. It was only during 
the last few months of his official hfe that the Unionist Cabinet was 
divided into groups, and till he raised the fiscal question he worked 
amicably with the other ministers. 

There is no evidence that Mr. Gladstone's relations with Mr. Cham- 
berlain were at any time thoroughly cordial and confidential. The 
' Life of Gladstone, by John Morley. 
813 



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314 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Liberal chief, magnanimous as he was, may never have forgotten that 
the Radical Mayor of Birmingham described his election address in 1874 
as the meanest public document that ever proceeded from a statesman 
of the first rank ; his old-fashioned habits of reserve in official business 
were at variance with the ministerial methods introduced by Mr. Cham- 
berlain, and his sense of discipline was offended by the advocacy of the 
unauthorized programme, while on the other hand he did not ade- 
quately recognize his colleague's ability. Between 1876 and 1886 the 
yotmger statesman made many flattering references to the older, but 
after the latter year there was little opportimity for friendship, and 
although their last messages were messages of kindliness and charity, 
and Mr. Gladstone scarcely ever expressed resentment, the recollection 
of bitter controversies could not be effaced from the memory. It is 
easy to write on that tablet, but it is as hard to rub off the stabbing, 
wounding words as it was for Lady Macbeth to wipe the blood spots 
from her hands. 

In his allusions to his first chief, Mr. Chamberlain displayed a pain- 
ful contrariety. In 1874 he wrote that the Radicals were not disposed 
to ' take him back ' without questions being asked ; in 1876 he urged 
him to put on once more his well-dinted armour ; in 1882 he described 
him as the noblest figure in English political history and testified that 
so far from being a t5n:ant there was no man so ready to receive 
suggestions or so anxious to appreciate the case of an opponent ; in 
1883 he said his retirement would be an incalculable misfortune for his 
country ; in 1884 he eulogized ' the great chief of whom I am proud ' 
and said, ' our noble cause has a noble leader' ; in 1885 he declared 
that Mr. Gladstone was remarkable for his personal character and for 
the high tone that he had introduced into our political and public life, 
and predicted that he would stand out before posterity as the greatest 
man of the time. In 1886 Mr. Chamberlain's opinion of Mr. Gladstone 
changed with his point of view. Not only did he charge him then with 
making an abject surrender to a vile conspiracy, but in 1890 he de- 
scribed him as an imperious leader and said his Home Rule policy was 
conceived in secrecy, bom in deceit and nurtured on evasion ; in 1892 
he denounced him as a furious mob orator ; in 1893 he jeered at the 
Liberals for erecting his name and age into a fetish and regarding his 
voice as the voice of a god. 

With the Duke of Devonshire he was associated longer than with 
any other statesman. They served together in the Liberal Cabinet 
from 1880 to 1885, and in the Unionist Administration from 1895 to 
1903 ; and in the interval between 1886 and 1895 their relationship 
was as close as that of colleagues in office. Their conuadeship under 
Mr. Gladstone had been marred by a lack of sympathy and by conflict- 
ing views, but after a few years of conunon hostility to Home Rule the 



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COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS AND ENEMIES 315 

one fully recognized the good qualities of the other. While the Duke 
properly appreciated the value of his coUeague'sservices and induced 
their alUes to accede as far as possible to his wishes, Mr. Chamberlain 
rebuked those who twitted the Whig leader on what he owed to his birth, 
and declared that the public confidence in him was due to his ability, 
courage, English virtue, and a straight-forward honesty ; in 1890 he 
bore testimony to his sound judgment and true patriotism ; in 1895 
he referred to the modesty and self-efiacement which had been the 
distinguishing characteristic of his pubUc career ; and in 1901 he paid 
another tribute to his wise counsels. In 1903, alas ! he resumed the 
tone of an earUer decade, and taimted the possessor of those qualities 
on going down to posterity as the drag on the wheel. 

Lord Salisbury and the Radical who joined his Government never 
mocked one another with effusive compliments. For ten years their 
personalities enlivened if they did not embitter political controversy. 
From his early Liberal years till the days when he loved Mr. Gladstone 
less than any Conservative, Mr. Chamberlain flung many gibes at 
' the true representative of the inveterate prejudices ' of the Tory 
party, and Lord Salisbury in turn flouted his doctrines with equal trench- 
ancy. Neither controversialist, however, was hurt by sharp words, 
and although the alliance begun in ' the little dingy downstairs room ' 
at the Turf Club in 1886 may not have obliterated the past from their 
minds, they did not bear any malice or grudge. The Tory leader was 
able to certify in 1894 that there was no taint of confiscation in any- 
thing that the former advocate of ransom then proposed, and in 1899 
his old Radical adversary stated that nothing they ever said of one 
another had prevented their cordial co-operation. If Mr. Chamberlain 
did not favour his Unionist chief with such panegyrics as he had pro- 
nounced on Mr. Gladstone, neither did he, on the other hand, defy him 
with an independent programme. There is no proof that at any 
time he disturbed Lord Salisbury's phlegm. 

Between Sir William Harcourt and Mr. Chamberlain many hard 
buffets were exchanged. In 1876 the Radical member for Birmingham 
asserted that the ex-Sohcitor-General was sedulously divesting himself 
of every shred of Liberalism, but he soon knew him better, and their 
poUticsd comradeship developed into a personal friendship which sur- 
vived even the stiff battles of later years. Sir William Harcourt 
became, after the Home Rule spUt, ' the chameleon,' the swordsman 
whose ' sword is alwa)^ at the service of the strongest faction,' ' the 
Bombastes Furioso of contemporary politics.' Mr. Chamberlain, 
in turn, was ' a bad loser ' ; he was found lacking in good breeding 
and courtesy towards his opponents, he was accused of personal ran- 
cour and venomous hostility, and he was likened to Sir Anthony Abso- 
lute. Yet he and Sir Willian continued, although at increasing inter- 



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3i6 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

vak, to joke and dine together. The South African war put a new 
strain on their friendship, but there was no rupture. One of them, at 
any rate, shared the sentiment expressed to Lord Jeffrey by Christo- 
pher North : ' The animosities are mortal but the humanities live 
for ever.' Ou one occasion when the member for West Birmingham 
was a guest at Malwood, Sir William Harcourt's residence in the New 
Forest, and the house party were writing their names in the visitors' 
book, the page was full when it came to his turn. ' Now, Chamberlain,' 
said Sir William, ' here is the chance of your Uf e to turn over a new leaf ! ' 
' I'm hanged if I will,' replied Mr. Chamberlain, and he inscribed his 
name in the margin at the top. 

From suspicion and disdain the relationship between Mr. Balfour 
and Mr. Chamberlain changed to warm regard. They were as the poles 
asunder in temperament and in tastes. On the one side the nephew 
of a Marquis, and on the other the son of a boot and shoe merchant ; 
on the one side a mind which wandered in philosophic mazes, on the 
other a direct business intellect ; on the one side a man of languid 
manners, on the other a man of restless, aggressive activity ; on the 
one side a nature which sought reUef in music and literature, in golf 
and tennis, in cycling and motoring, and on the other a nature con- 
centrated on politics. Ambition matured more slowly in Mr. Balfour 
than in Mr. Chamberlain, but ultimately grew as strong, and perhaps 
the secrets of the first five years of the twentieth century will prove 
that the life-long Conservative was the subtler of the two statesmen 
who were placed almost in the position of rivals. Their conu'adeship, 
first as allies and later as colleagues, was one of the political marvds 
of modem history, and was due on the one hand to the skill of the 
Cecils, and on the other to an undying hostility to the Gladstonian 
Liberals. The friendship of men so unlike may have been strained 
by the fiscal propaganda, but for several years it proved an important 
factor in the government of the State. For no politician on either 
side did the member for Birmingham show a warmer regard than for 
the Conservative leader whose party was wrecked on his policy. 

Less animosity existed between Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 
and Mr. Chamberlain than their caustic allusions might lead a reader 
to suppose. The statesman whom friends called ' C.B.' till initials 
were considered excessively famiUar for a Prime Minister was too easy 
tempered to be a good hater, and the keenest fighter in public life did 
not as a rule regard an open political opponent with personal dislike. 
Sharp recriminations passed between them. Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman ruling his adversary out of honourable society and Mr. 
Chamberlain appealing to Sir Henry to try to be a gentleman. Such 
taunts were the outcome of passing moods. Both were able to 
act in the generous spirit of Dr. Johnson. Although Johnson was a 



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COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS AND ENEMIES 317 

strong Tory, and declared that the first Whig was the devil, yet, as 
a Liberal of our time points out, his relations with the greatest Whig 
writer and politician of his day were marked by a cordiality, respect 
and admiration that never wearied nor wavered. Mr. Chamberlain 
was capable of thorough respect for a stout, steady foe, and reserved 
his harshest feelings for men who went tiger-hunting with him a little 
way and then turned back. Of no contemporary did he speak with 
more acrimony than the colleague who after acting with him against 
Home Rule made peace with Mr. Gladstone and re-entered the fold of 
the faithful. His tone rasped with contempt when he described Sir 
George Trevdyan as the most perfect specimen which the process of 
natural selection and the development of the species had produced 
of the political weathercock. ' Sir George,' he said on another occasion, 
' is full of fine platitudes and noble sentiments. He is the Joseph 
Surface of politics.' 

To his enemies Mr. Chamberlain alluded in his ripe years with com- 
placency. ' I would sooner have the hate of any man than his con- 
tempt, ' he boasted in 1899, and he declared that there were some persons 
(including politicians) by whom it would be better to be hanged than 
praised. His sentiments in this respect remained the same as they were 
in the early da)^ when he quoted Tennyson's reply to Christopher 
North :— 

You did late review my lays. 
Crusty Christopher ; 

You did mingle blame and praise. 
Rusty Christopher ; 

When I heard from whom it came, 

I forgave you aU the blame. 
Musty Christopher; 

I could not forgive the praise, 
Fusty c£uristopher. 

At a banquet in 1900 Sir William Anson referred humorously to the 
fact that Mr. Chamberlain was not one of those of whom all men spoke 
well. ' Of course I yearn,' he replied with a mocking smile, * for that 
universal popularity, but in the meantime I can say with a poet of the 
end of the last century : — * 

Friends I have made, whom envy may command. 
But not one foe whom I would wish a friend.' 

Lord Rosebery, who frequently exchanged badinage and raillery with 
him, remarked at a City feast that ' he has many friends, and I think 
he may be pretty constantly made aware he has some enemies.' In 
an amiable mood he responded by saying he was glad to reckon Lord 
Rosebery among his personal friends, and, ' as to the enemies of whom 
he speaks, I shall never take the trouble to count theoL' With equal 

^ Charles Churchill (1731-64). 



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3i8 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

charity, in 1902, noting that he had been described as the best-hated 
person of the time, he assumed that the phrase was used in a Pickwick- 
ian sense. At all events, he said, political animosities in this country 
were very much the crackling of thorns under the pot. The fire burned 
fiercdy and brightly for a minute and then died down. ' For myself/ 
he continued, ' I hope and I believe during what may be called perhaps 
a fighting career, I have never cherished personal animosity to any 
man, and I have always known how to separate in our poUtical differ- 
ences the pubUc feeling from the private character.' On other occasions, 
however, he exulted in the antagonism which he excited. ' During 
all the time I have been a public man,' he said complacently rather 
than by way of complaint, at the end of 1905, ' I have been a cock-shy 
for all my poUtical opponents. I have been accused of every public 
crime and almost of every private iniquity. Sometimes I have 
wondered whether I was fit for civilized society.' 

For a quarter of a century, indeed, Mr. Chamberlain was regarded 
by one section or another with greater personal dislike than any other 
member of Parliament. As a Radical minister he was dreaded and 
detested by Tories who considered that he was a dangerous demagogue, 
guilty of reckless language ; when he separated from Mr. Gladstone 
and opposed Home Rule he was hated — ^the word is not too strong — ^by 
a large number of the Liberals and by the NationaUsts ; and when 
he proceeded to split the Unionist party on the fiscal question he was 
equally distrusted and disliked by a few at least of the Conservatives 
who had formerly acted with him. But why this personal feehng ? 
It was due partly to the personalities which he himself used and which 
sprang from the intensity and force of his disposition ; and partly — 
perhaps more largely — ^to the suddenness and completeness of his 
changes. His sincerity was doubted, ambitious motives were attributed 
to him, and he was found lacking in consideration for others. Men 
attached to parties and leaders were irritated by his indifference to 
the ties which boimd them, and as he showed contempt for those 
who would not follow himself the frail human nature of the ordinary 
politician yielded to animosity. It was really in the force of his 
character that the provocation lay. 

Testimony, on the other hand, to his capacity for friendship has 
been borne in striking words by the eminent writer and statesman 
from whom he parted politically in 1886. In the Life of Gladstone 
Mr. Morley has recorded that Mr. Chamberlain ' always had his full 
share of the virtues of staunch friendship,' and in a speech in February, 
1904, even when much tried by his repudiation of the doctrines of 
Cobden, the biographer of the great Free Trader remarked, ' I have 
known the member for West Birmingham for half a Ufetime. During 
all those years I was in close and intimate relations with him, and I 



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COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS AND ENEMIES 319 

don't think I will allow any differences of opinion upon public questions 
to i^^vent me from saying that he possesses in a most marked and 
peculiar degree the genius of friendship — sincere, kind and staunch 
friendship.' This declaration was cavilled at by some of Mr. Morley's 
colleagues, who had found it difficult ' to gather the honey of friendship 
out of that thorn-guarded plant,' and it was all the more notable on 
account of the sharp passages which had occurred between themselves. 
No person criticized Mr. Chamberlain with more candour than the 
friend who went so far in 1891 as to accuse him of hitting below the 
bdt ; and he in turn likened the man whom others called ' Honest John ' 
to Mr. Pecksniff in politics. He attributed to Mr. Morley ' a burst 
of Pecksniffian eloquence,' and added truly that ' Mr. PecsknifiE in 
politics is not an attractive character.' Yet kindly feelings were not 
driven out by these hard sayings, and the friendship of half aUfetime 
was maintained. 

Another of Mr. Chamberlain's intimate comrades of early das^s 
for whom he cherished kindly feelings was Sir Charles Dilke, a states- 
man of great ability and vast information who by his own conduct 
deprived himself of the opportunity of giving to the State the full 
benefit of his talents. Seldom have poUticians displayed such mutual 
consideration as these two. Neither would take office without the 
other in 1880 ; and in December, 1882, when the Government was 
being reconstructed, and Sir Charles Dilke's claims to a Cabinet place 
proved overwhelming, Mr. Chamberlain offered to give up to him the 
Board of Trade ' which he much Uked and take the Duchy which he 
did not like at all.' In response to his letter conveying this suggestion 
Mr. Gladstone wrote * a hearty line to acknowledge the self-sacrificing 
spirit in which it is written.' ^ Sir Charles Dilke did not season his 
arguments with personalities. For about a quarter of a century he 
was opposed to Mr. Chamberlain, but through good report and evil 
report the recollection of older days when they were Republicans and 
Radicals together softened the political controversies in which they 
became engaged. 

While others testified that he never forgot an enemy, Mr. Chamber- 
lain himself boasted that he never deserted a friend, and it was notor- 
ious that he could be relied upon to stand by those who were useful 
to him. He was truly ' a hedge about his friends, a hackle to his foes.' 
' As one grows old the worst thing that happens is the loss of friends ; 
no new^ friendship can possibly replace in all respects the older ones.' 
So he said in 1905, when death removed one of his oldest comrades 
in Birmingham, and the remark revealed how a man commonly ac- 
counted hard, shared the need of the common lot. It was a remarkable 
circumstance, however, that very few of his intimate friends were on 

» Lifr of Gladstone. 



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320 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

an equality with himself. Nearly all were subordinates or eoUeagues 
of inferior ability, who were content to play a secondary r61e and 
follow where he led. 

Most notable and typical was his friendship with Mr. Jesse Collings, 
a man of ordinary talents, five years older than himself, short of stature, 
with square shoulders and erect figure, amiable in temperament but 
bristling in defence of an honoured chief. A merchant in Birmingham, 
he was early associated with Mr. Chamberlain in educational and 
municipal affairs, and followed him to ParUament. In 1883 Sir Henry 
Drummond Wolfif described him as the Radical leader's aUer ego, 
and informed the House of Conmions that he was known in their com- 
mon borough as ' Chamberlain's barometer.' They were called in 
more dignified language * the Radical Orestes and Pylades,' and Punch 
familiarized them to the pubUc as Don Chamberlain Quixote and Sancho 
Jesse Panza, Whither the knight went his servant followed : * I 
cannot help it, follow him I must ; I have eaten his bread, I love him. 
Above all I am faithful.' Sometimes the question was asked whether 
like Sancho, Mr. Collings was not wiser than his master. It was 
suggested that the statesman who was suspected of taking his ideas 
from Mr. Morley and his information from Sir Charles Dilke derived 
his policy from Mr. Jesse Collings ! 

On one occasion, as Mr. Chamberlain narrated, he and his friend 
visited the island of Corfu, where they were conducted over a British 
man-of-war. As they left the ship, they passed through a double 
line of sailors and marines, and following in Mr. CoUings's footsteps 
the statesman heard a small voice saying, ' There goes three-acres-and- 
a-cow. ' With the aid of three-acres-and-a-cow Mr. Gladstone obtained 
ofl&ce in 1886, and Mr. Chamberlain was very angry when after the Home 
Rule split, the Liberal chief spoke slightingly of ' a certain Mr. Jesse 
Collings.' Probably the reference was meant to be pla5^ful, but the 
Don of Birmingham permitted no one to indulge in pleasantry at the 
expense of his squires. They, in turn, followed him blindly. A Nation- 
alist member remarked that he would as soon go to Sancho Panza 
for a character of Don Quixote as to Mr. Collings for a character of 
Mr. Chamberlain ; but the ancient Sancho was a candid critic com- 
pared with the modem. 



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XLIII 
PERSONAL LIFE 

A SOFT side has been discovered even in Mr. Chamberlain. Dr^ 
Dale, telling a writer on the New Age how admirable he was in 
his family relations, how true in his private life, how loyal in his 
friendships, declared also that he was tender-hearted. As a member 
of the School Board of Birmingham it was part of his duty to hear 
complaints against teachers, and occasionally there would be little 
scenes ; a woman would start crjdng. Mr. Chamberlain went to Dr. 
Dale and begged to be relieved of the work, for he could not stand weep- 
ing women. This sign of sensibility was given at a comparativdy 
early age, but as late as 1902 Dr. Percival, Bishop of Hereford, said 
that all who were acquainted with him knew he had a warm heart 
' though it was difficult to reach.' Certainly he did not wear his heart 
on his sleeve for poUticians to peck at. It was revealed to the House 
of Commons, chiefly in his parental relationship. 

The devotion of the two generations touched the most callous and 
cynical. At a public dinner at which Mr. Austen Chamberlain 
was entertained, the Duke of Devonshire referred to ' the simple 
and elementary but not unimportant fact that he was the son 
of his father.' To him he owed his training and rapid promotion in 
poUtical life, and the father was proud of the son's industry and suc- 
cess. In debate in 1894 on the enfranchisement of lodgers Mr. 
Chamberlain said : ' I have a son who gives me the pleasure of his 
company at my house,' and Mr. Morley alluding to his ' happy case ' 
remarked that everybody was glad that he should have such a lodger. 
Again in the following year, speaking on the Irish Land Bill, the father 
confessed with the same fondness : ' It is quite true that I am a land- 
lord myself. I have only one tenant and he does not pay any rent, 
although he makes frequent claims for compensation. As my tenant 
is my honourable friend, the member for East Worcestershire, I do 
not think I am much prejudiced on either side of the question.' Al- 
though as a rule domestic details in Parliament shock the aristocracy, 
the parental pride of the fighting poUtician appealed to the sjonpathy 
of all classes. 

The faithfulness of Mr.Chamberlain to Birmingham, and of Birming- 
ham to Mr. Chamberlain, was like the faithfulness of man and wife^ 

321 21 



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322 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

In the woild, as well as in Parliament, he stood for the Midland town,^ 
and he spoke of ' my own people ' as if he were a king. ' If you were 
ever to turn against me/ he told his constituents in 1900, ' my political 
•career would come to an end. I have been so proud to represent my 
own fellow-citizens that I could not stoop to ask the suffrages of any 
other constituency. If you discard me I shall take my leave of public 
life.' At the outset of his Parliamentary career, after a short absence 
from home, he confessed he never thoroughly enjoyed himself out of 
Birmingham. He and Mr. Collings had been travelling, and they 
agreed there was no such city in the whole of the civilized world. 
To that opinion Mr. Chamberlain adhered. 

During the whole of his stormy life he made it a rule to go to his 
Midland home as often as possible. While other members of Parlia- 
ment sought excitement at each other's country-houses, or at some 
fashionable resort, Mr. Chamberlain spent his week-ends at Highbury. 
He was never bored, as so many smart people pretend to be, by pro- 
vincial life. ' How should I do otherwise than love Birmingham ? ' 
he protested in 1902. ' Here is my home, here is my family life, and 
no man owes more than I do to the blessings of a family life. Here 
I have sorrowed, and here I have rejoiced, and through good and evil, 
through all the vicissitudes of my career, the sympathy and the good- 
will of the people of Birmingham have followed it, and bound me to 
them by links of steel.' 

Birmingham's confidence in Mr. Chamberlain was equal to his 
own attachment. Mr. Bright said of him in 1877 : ' He has done great 
service in his town. There, where he is best known, he is best appre- 
ciated.' That feeling endured, and the prophet was honoured in his 
own district with a steadfastness rare in the case of politicians and 
specially remarkable in the case of one who changed most of his opin- 
ions. In Profits anglais, Monsieur A. Filon recalls with what caressing 
familiarity, with what artless, motherly or proprietorial pride, in the 
chef d'ceuvre of Alphonse Daudet the electors of Roumestan speak of 
their favourite as ' notre Numa.' Thus the people of Birmingham 
were supposed by the French observer to speak of ' Our Joseph.' 
They spoke of ' Joe Chamberlain,' * good old Joe,' sometimes with 
pride, sometimes with familiarity. Throughout the country, as well 
as in the Midland city, and even in the letters of statesmen, Mr. Cham- 
berlain was ' Joe.' In almost his last speech in the House of Commons 
he noted that Dr. Clifford, the Nonconformist leader, ' whose personal 

» The Birmingham Daily Post in November, 1902, wrote : ' Mr. Chamberlain 
has come to occupy a position strongly analogous to that of Mr. Bright a genera- 
tion ago. At one time it could be said that John Bright was Birmingham and 
that his voice in the great questions of the day was the voice of Birmingham as 
a whole. In the controversies and developments of these later years it has been 
no less true that Mr. Chamberlain is Birmingham.' 



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PERSONAL LIFE 323 

acquaintance I do not enjoy/ spoke of him by his Christian name, 
saying they ' all knew what Joey wanted.' As a rule, however, 
he showed no dislike of the short name and when it was flung at him 
in public meetings he did not resent the liberty. Least of all did 
he object to it from his * own people.' 

In the affairs of his adopted town he continued to be the leader 
for over thirty years. * Through all these years/ said the Rev. J. H. 
Jowett,^ ' he has intimately and profoundly associated himself with 
everything that affects the civic life, and has initiated and taken the 
lead in every measure for its enrichment. I know of no great move- 
ment in which he has not been foremost among the foremost. We owe 
to him our imiversity and our great hospital. He is one with the 
progressive life of the people, and they reap every day the benefits of 
his experience and energy.* The founding of the University was one 
of his latest services to Birmingham. Viscount Haldane has recalled 
that in 1898, being very anxious to get a bill through Parliament for 
the establishment of a teaching university in London, he went to 
Mr. Chamberlain, who was then very influential in the Government. 
Mr. Chamberlain said, * Excellent ; but, dear me, there is Birmingham.' 
' And before I knew where I was,' added Viscount Haldane, * he had 
got a charter through for Birmingham and a teaching university 
established there.* Mr. Chamberlain's speech on the ideal of a imiver- 
sity when he started the movement was one of the most eloquent 
he ever delivered. His request for a quarter of a million provoked 
incredulous smiles, but by the autumn of 1899 the fund amounted to 
£315,000 and a few years later it rose to about half a million. Accord- 
ing to Sir Oliver Lodge, the University sprang from Mr. Chamberlain's 
brain. It was largely through his personal influence that the scheme 
proved so successful, and his efforts were the more remarkable in view 
of the fact that the South African war was taking place at the time. 
Even when the Trustees were drafting the charter, which was obtained 
in 1900, he was with them, as the Vice-Chancellor testified, ' master- 
ing every clause.' 

The position of a tamed shrew has been attributed to Birmingham 
by people who did not share her hero worship. 

Pbtruchio— I say it is the moon. 
Kathakina — I know it is the moon. 
Pbtruchio— Nay, then you lie, it is the blessed sun. 
Katharina— Then, God be bless'd, it is the blessed son : 
But son it is not, when yon say it is not. 

With obedience worthy of Katharina, Birmingham followed her 
Petruchio in all his moods. It was Home Rule one day. Unionist the 
next ; one day the House of Lords deserved to be abolished, next 

* Interview in British Weekly. 



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324 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

day it was the saviour of the country ; one day Free Trade was essen- 
tial to the national prosperity, next day the empire would perish 
if a preferential tariff were not adopted ! Through all his changes 
the personal belief in ' Joe Chamberiain ' was unshaken. Whatever 
he was, the great majority of the electors were content to be. In 
November, 1905, he declared that he was still a Radical, ' if you will 
understand the word correctly/ In Birmingham they imderstood 
the word ; they knew that Mr. Chamberlain had remained — ^where 
The Times placed him in 1874 — in a class by himself, and as a rule 
they voted for him neither as Liberals nor as Conservatives but as 
Chamberlainites. By his candour he maintained his authority. His 
fellow-townsmen were pleased to be taken into his confidence and they 
gave him their own. 

His domestic life was never exhibited to the public gaze. Once 
or twice the impressionist interviewer was permitted to visit his garden 
or sit at his table, and was hypnotized by one of the cleverest men 
in the world, with the result that a smiling nation learned that the 
real Mr. Chamberlain was not the fighter whom Parliamentarians had 
seen every day for thirty sessions, but an amiable grower of flowers. 
As a rule, however, his home was veiled from the world and only his 
friends saw him in the intimacy of family life. One of the most inter- 
esting glimpses of the Highbury circle was given by Lord Chancellor 
Selbome, who in a letter to Sir Arthur Gordon (Lord Stanmore) in 
October, 1889, describing a visit to Mr. Chamberlain, said that in his 
own family he was very agreeable, and his children were very agreeable 
to him ; * which is always a good sign as to the head of the family.' 
Lord Selbome added that his eldest son aiid daughter — ^he did not 
see any of the others — were as nice-mannered yoimg people, and as 
attentive to their elders, as he had ever seen ; very intelligent too, 
and attractive in all ways. Mr. Chamberlain informed the House 
of Commons in a discussion on flogging that when his bojrs were 
at a public school he took care that in no conceivable circumstances 
should they be subjected to that humiliation, and he ventured to say 
that in after life they had not proved any the worse on that account. 
He had reason to be proud of his sons and they were devoted to him. 
The younger, Neville, who for several years managed his father's 
property in the Bahamas and was subsequently in business at home, 
spoke frequently at meetings in support of his policy and proved 
that he had a full share of the family ability, but at the time of the 
writing of this book he had declined all invitations to enter Parliament. 

To the lady who shared his life for a quarter of a century, Mr. 
Chamberlain acknowledged deep indebtedness. She never sought to 
play any rdle apart from him on the public stage ; she was his constant 
companion, going with him, as Mrs. Gladstone went with Mr. Gladstone, 



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PERSONAL LIFE 325 

to public meetings and banquets, and encouraging him by her sym- 
pathy. Mrs. Chdmberlain's smiling face and still manners charmed 
many an audience. It was evident that her constant care was for 
her husband's comfort. ' Thy people shall be my people,' she promised 
when she came to Birmingham, and she kept her word. At the 
banquet at which Mr. Chamberlain was entertained before setting 
out for South Africa he ' faltered and seemed likely to be overpowered 
with his emotion ' as he thanked his fellow-townsmen for a compliment 
to his wife. ' She, ' he said, * who has been associated with me through- 
out fourteen years of arduous and somewhat excessive strain may 
well be associated with me now in your kind recognition. I can never 
say — certainly not in a public gathering — what I owe to her, but I 
know that during that time she has sustained me by her courage and 
cheered me by her gracious companionship, and I have found in her 
my best and truest counsel.' Again, on his return from the tour, 
replying to an address from his constituents, he made a similar acknow- 
ledgment. * I am very glad,' he said, * that you have mentioned 
my wife in your address, for her companionship and help have been of 
the greatest value to me. I do not know how I should have got 
through my work without her assistance and co-operation.' 

His Parliamentary colleagues gratified him on more than one 
occasion by their recognition of his wife's noble qualities. At the 
dinner given in his honour by Unionist members on July 8, 1904. 
he was accompanied by Mrs. Chamberlain, and the chairman alluding 
to ' that bright and inspiring presence who graced their assembly ' 
remarked that there was not a man in the room who was not grateful 
for the gentle, elevating influence which she exercised. Six years 
later at another celebration of his birthday at Prince's Restaurant, 
in less happy circumstances, Mr. Walter Long made eloquent refer- 
ence to ' a great woman who had devoted herself to her husband 
through years of anxiety in a way which had won her the admiration 
of all people.' 

Mr. Chamberlain was not a clubman. He belonged to several 
London clubs, but during the greater part of his life he seldom set 
foot in any of them. ' I have the idea,' he said, * that for a married 
man who has given a great number of hostages to fortime, perhaps 
the best place for him is his own fireside, and I have reason to think 
that Mrs. Chamberlain is of the same opinion.' Two of his brothers 
who had been nominated as candidates for the Reform Club were in 
the spring of 1882 blackballed — ^by, as he supposed, a Whig clique. 
This imfriendly action excited the indignation of Radicals throughout 
the coimtry, and their then leader was furious. ' I have made up my 
mind,' he wrote to a friend,^ ' not to do anything rashly, or to give 
^ Correspondence and Speeches of Peter Rylands, M.P. 



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326 



JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 



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PERSONAL LIFE 327 

the enemy a chance ; but I don't intend to let those d d snobs- 
have it all their own way. It is monstrous that it should actually be 
a disqualification for membership of a Liberal Club to have been in 
any way distinguished as a Liberal. I find the good people at Bir- 
mingham are furious. They will come up and storm the Club if 
something is not done.' 

At a meeting of that historic institution in Pall Mall at which Mr. 
Bright and Lord Granville denounced the blackballing, Lord Hart- 
ington moved a resolution in favour of transferring elections from 
the members at large to a special committee. This was carried in the 
first instance, but on a ballot being taken it was rejected, and Mr^ 
Chamberlain shortly afterwards resigned his membership. He was- 
one of the promoters a few months later of the National Liberal Club, 
and at the laying of the foundation stone of the new buUding by Mr. 
Gladstone, in 1884, when Lord Hartington ironically referred to a 
report that it was to be the future home of the Caucus, the ' boss ' of 
that organization said he did not care to dispute the soft impeachment. 
After the Home Rule split, however, he withdrew from the Radical 
resort. On the other hand in 1885 he boasted that he had * never 
worshipped with the Whigs in the temple of Brooks's.' He was a 
member of the Athenaeum, but even there he was rarely seen. Soon 
after leaving the Reform he joined the Devonshire and occasionally 
within its walls he met his friends. In 1903, the year of his fiscal 
volte-face, he accepted election as an honorary member of the Con- 
stitutional Club, admission to which is limited to Conservatives. 
Thus he was connected at the same time both with a Liberal dub and 
with a Conservative dub.* The fact that an ordinary person was a 
member of a Liberal club would imply that he was not a Conserva- 
tive and the fact of his being a member of a Conservative dub would 
imply that he was not a Liberal. Mr. Chamberlain, however, was^ 
above party. 

Unlike most of his colleagues in the House of Commons he hdd 
aloof from social functions. He devoted himsdf to the severer side 
of public life. To the best of his knowledge and belief, the first time 
he was ever inside a bazaar was in opening one in Birmingham in 1894. 
Many a member envied his ability to make such a confession. In the 
life of the capital, apart from political duties, Mr. Chamberlain took 
a very sUght share. Birmingham was his home ; London only a place 
of temporary residence. For a time he resided at 30, Wilton Place, 

^ The Devonshire was defined as ' a political club on a broad basis in strict 
connexion with, and designed to promote the objects of the Liberal party.' One 
of the objects of the Constitational Club is ' to do all such things as, in the opinion 
of the Committee, shaU tend to promote the interests of the Conservative party 
in the United Kingdom/ 



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328 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

l)ut about 1880 he took 72, Prince's Gate, and subsequently he moved 
to 40, Prince's Gardens, a tall, narrow-fronted house in the fashionable 
and peaceful quarter between South Kensington Museum and Hyde 
Park. 

His neglect of exercise astonished contemporaries in an age of 
athleticism and sport. Macaulay, as Sir George Trevelyan writes, 
was utteriy destitute of bodily accomplishments, and viewed his 
•deficiencies with supreme indifference. He could neither swim, nor 
row, nor drive, nor skate, nor shoot. He seldom crossed a saddle, 
and never willingly. When in attendance at Windsor as a Cabinet 
Minister, the historian was informed that a horse was at his disposal. 
"* If Her Majesty wishes to see me ride,' he said, * she must order out 
an elephant.' Such a passage might, even in the vigoiu* of his life, 
have been written of Mr. Chamberlain. ' There are men of spare 
habit,' remarked Sir Charles Dilke in the North American Review 
when his friend was Colonial Secretary, ' who believe that they are 
better without exercise. The most distinguished debater in the 
Government, who has an excellent seat on a horse but who is never 
now seen on one, and who is no mean hand at lawn tennis, which he 
scarcely ever plays, is believed to hold this view.' 

Till the age at any rate of fifty, Mr. Chamberlain played lawn 
tennis but a little later he was able to give a very complete negative 
list. ' I do not suppose,' he said in 1892, ' that in the whole of the 
United Kingdom there is any man who is less of an athlete than I am. 
I do not cycle ; I do not ride ; I do not walk when I can help it ; I 
do not play cricket ; I do not play football ; I do not play tennis, and 
I do not even play golf, which I have been assured is an indispensable 
condition of statesmanship. The fact is that I do not take any exercise 
at all.' The allusion to golf was playful satire on the fashion set by 
Mr. Balfour. It was reported that on Mr. Chamberlain being taken 
ill during a visit to America, a doctor was summoned. ' You smoke 
a good deal.' ' Yes, but I make that up by never taking exercise ! ' 
On accoimt of his disinclination for walldng, Mr. Chamberlain's figure 
was unfamiliar on the streets of London. It was usually while sitting 
well forward in a hansom that he was seen here. 

One of his few recreations was theatre-going. For the drama he 
cared more than for music. The stage may have reminded him of the 
House of Commons, of its pathos and clowning, of its exits and en- 
trances, of its imposing scenes and its swift changes. Soon after his 
last marriage, presiding at a banquet given to Mr. and Mrs. Kendal on 
the eve of their first visit to America, he repudiated the arguments 
used by * some of our modem Pmitans who appeared to think that the 
stage was an ante-room to a warmer place and that it had nothing but 
demoralising influences.' In rather hackneyed words he expressed his 



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PERSONAL LIFE 329 

own opinion that the stage was an educational influence and an instru- 
ment of civilization. * Each man in his time plays many parts/ said 
the versatile politician. No ; not each man ; Jaques' ovm words 
are better : he said ' one man ! ' 

Along with other sensible people Mr. Chamberlain liked good com- 
pany, and he had himself the reputation of being an agreeable compan- 
ion. A prominent political opponent, who had little sjmipathy with 
him in any sphere of life, told the present writer that in country 
houses, for instance, he fascinated his fellow-guests. He possessed a 
powerful and magnetic personality and in whatever company he might 
be he produced what Bagehot described, in Cobden's case, as a sense 
of himself. 

Smoking was his chief solace. He expressed agreement with the 
gentleman at the Magpie and Stump in the Pickwick Papers who said 
that tobacco was board and lodging to him. People seldom saw Mr. 
Chamberlain out of doors without a cigar — 2l big cigar — ^in his mouth. 
Mr. Chaplin jocularly remarked that he did not know a man who smoked 
more big, long, black, nasty-looking cigars. At public luncheons and 
dinners he would sometimes smoke during his speech. He used to tell 
a story against himself with reference to one of thqse functions in an 
important city. The mayor presided, and when coffee was being 
served he whispered to Mr. Chamberlain ; ' Shall we let them enjoy 
themselves a little longer, or had we better have your speech now ? ' 
Mr. Chamberlain himself did not separate enjoyment from listening to 
or delivering speeches, and fellow-diners noted the skill with which 
while addressing them he could keep his cigar alight. 

His health for many years excited the envy of contemporaries. 
He had, as he boasted in mature age, eaten ices whenever he could get 
them; he smoked whenever he had nothing else to do and generally 
when he had something to do ; and he ' consumed in moderation such 
alcoholic fluids as he saw before him.' Yet his digestion then was as 
good as ever. In this respect, as in others, he was fortunate, for good 
digestion is no less necessary to the successful politician than a thick 
skin. 

' You know,' said Mr. Rhodes at Capetown a year after the Raid, 
' every man must do something. Some people grow orchids.' Mr. 
Chamberlain's orchid was almost as constant a companion as his 
eye-glass. Day after day in the House of Commons he wore one in his 
coat — ^an exquisite glint of colour in a sombre scene. At Highbury 
he occupied himself with the collection of the various species of orchids, 
their cross-breeding and the consequent production of hybrids and the 
rearing of seedlings. An eminent authority in 1914 expressed the 
opinion that his collection was worth £25.000. When he championed 
the cause of the poor certain detractors asserted with a sneer that he 



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330 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

favoured the orchid because it was rare and expensive. Throughout his- 
life, however, he loved all flowers and cultivated many. Among his- 
favourites were begonias and carnations : he devoted attention also to^ 
ferns. Mr. Chamberlain said he did not know that a man could spend 
pleasanter hours than in keeping a garden. ' It is certainly more 
pleasant,' he dared to assert at Newcastle, ' than buying a deer park 
or keeping a betting book.' He took great interest in Kew Gardens, 
and when he was in the Unionist Government he obtained an extra 
grant, by means of which the temperate house, one-eighth of a mile 
long, which had long remained unfinished, was completed. 

As to his religious belief Mr. Chamberlain was, as a rule, reticent. 
In early life in Birmingham, as we have seen, he was an active worker 
at the Church of the Messiah. While mayor he was conspicuously loyal 
to it. One of his most noteworthy utterances on religious matters was- 
a speech he delivered at the annual soiree of his Church in 1875, imme- 
diately after the visit of Messrs. Moody and Sankey to tie town. 
He said the Unitarians had one fundamental doctrine — ^that God did 
not create unskilful, ignorant, frail man in order to damn him eternally 
for some unwitting error with regard to abstract religion. Apropos of 
' what was called the revival ' he referred with all respect to work 
which had attracted the support and admiration of men with whom 
it was his delight to meet and labour, but he was boimd to speak in 
disfavour of one dogma, the fear of hell. Those who supported the 
movement claimed great practical results, but he thought it was 
difl&cult to give proofs of these. It might be easy to offer statistics 
of men who in a state of contagious excitement asserted they had 
made their salvation sure ; but it was another matter to follow such 
men up to their homes and see how far this sudden conversion had 
been a pledge of Christian and altered lives. At all events, the 
Unitarians as a body, so long as they held their present opinions, 
were bound to protest against the whole system. * So long as this 
course of spiritual excitement and theological dram-drinking, disas- 
trous in its results, was pursued by others, they were bound to lay 
before the people their alternative of the duties of life and religion 
and the practical results they achieved.' Although Mr. Chamber- 
lain's attendance at service became irregular, he remained a member of 
the Church of the Messiah. The last time he addressed the House of 
Commons he spoke ' as a Unitarian ' and at the autumnal meeting of 
the community in 1910, the Rev. Charles Hargrove, referring to his 
lifelong association with them said, ' Unitarians are proud of him.' 
To the end he was faithful to his own denomination, although, as 
the Bishop of Birmingham testified, he was full of sympathy for all 
honest religious effort. 



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XLIV 
CHARACTERISTICS 

La guerre est ma patrie, 
Mon hamois ma maison, 
£t en tonte saison 
Combattre c'est ma vie. 

MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S character is a tangle hard to unraveL 
Charles Lamb said of Munden, the actor, that he was ' not so 
much a comedian as a company.' There was a company of characters 
— apolitical characters — ^in Mr. Chamberlain. Few actors on the world's 
stage have played so many parts as the London merchant's son who* 
went to Birmingham. He completed a considerable career by the time 
that he entered Parliament, and while he devoted himself to politics^ 
one great rdle succeeded another. He was, by turn, the independent 
Radical, the parochial statesman, the preacher of the evangel of poli- 
tical himianity, the defender of the unity of the kingdom, the mission- 
ary of empire, the advocate of tariffs. He denounced with ferocity 
what he formerly advocated, and advocated passionately what he 
formerly denounced. In politics he proved 

A man so various, that he seemed to be 
Not one, but aU mankind's epitome. 

His inconsistency or versatility was supposed by opponents to- 
spring from a selfish grasping at power, while friends saw in his mar- 
vellously varied career an evolution or development which was natural 
to a receptive mind with a widening experience. Eulogists of ambitious ^ 
men who have been successful say that all the great are ambitious. 
How far ambition swayed Mr. Chamberlain's career and affected his- 
conduct, who can tell ? A large section of his fellow-countrymen 
believed that he was influenced by personal motives in tiuning against 
Mr. Gladstone and resisting Home Rule. So far as his public declara- 
tions went he was able to make out a plausible case that he had never 
been in favour of the sort of Parliament in Dublin that his chief pro- 
posed. On the other hand he had undoubtedly produced the impres- 
sion, both on Radicals and on Nationalists, that he was in favour of as^ 
large an extension of Irish self-government as any other British states- 
man would support or tolerate. The question as to what he was likely 
to gain or lose individually by parting from Mr. Gladstone was difficult - 

331 



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332 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

to settle. Mr. Chamberlain himself argued that it would have been in 
his interest to remain with Mr. Gladstone, because thereby he would 
have dished the Whigs ; and his friends have agreed that in such cir- 
■cimistances his succession to the leadership would have been assured. 
His adversaries reply that he was in too great a hiury, that he believed 
the majority of the Liberals in the country were in his favour, and that 
he hoped the veteran chief on being defeated would retire from political 
life. If, however, he was governed by the motives attributed to him, 
he made an amazing miscalculation. 

The question of ambition arose again in connection with his retire- 
ment from Mr. Balfour's Government in 1903, and his vehement advo- 
cacy of a policy initiated by himself. Those who seek for a personal 
motive in his desertion of Cobdenism suspect that he was chagrined 
by the choice of a younger statesman — ^and a statesman who had done 
less service to the Unionist party — as successor to Lord Salisbury ; 
that he still aimed at the Prime Ministership, and saw that his oppor- 
timity would never come unless he seized it without much further de- 
lay. On the other hand his followers find a sufficient explanation of 
his fiscal propaganda in the influence of his colonial experience. They 
also point out that by leaving the Unionist Government he saved its 
head from some embarrassment, that he neglected opportimities of 
attacking the Administration, and that he steadily endeavoured to 
associate Mr. Balfour as titular leader with his new policy. 

Mr. Froude, who claimed to know him well, testified that * his aims 
are not selfish aims, nor is his ambition a personal one. It is part of 
the sincerity of his nature that he cares nothing for titles or ribands or 
-distinctions of any kind.' No doubt it was power rather than place 
that he sought throughout his life, but indifference to the Prime Minis- 
tership would be imnatiual in a masterful politician, and the more one 
studies Mr. Chamberlain's career the more one's mind is puzzled by 
the problem as to how far he was swayed in his action by the desire 
for pre-eminence. The most biting taunt that those who suspected 
his motives could apply to him was to say, in words quoted by a 
•Conservative Free Trader : — 

Thou, like the hindmost chariot wheel, art curst. 
Still to be near, yet never to be first. 

Although an inclination to intrigue was often imputed to Mr. 
•Chamberlain by those who failed to understand him, it may be doubted 
if he ever endeavoured to obtain by stealthy manoeuvres what others 
would try to secure openly. He did not conceal, his opinions or his 
political objects ; * intrigue ,' in his case, consisted in the management 
of men, the controlling of organizations, the working of the machine 
in the interests of his avowed aims and policy. Like Quisant'6, a 



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CHARACTERISTICS 333 

politician described by a modem novelist, he had the knack of dis- 
tracting attention from others and fixing it on himself. This was 
accounted an offence against him by those who excused their own medi- 
ocrity on the plea of discipline. Consideration for colleagues is an 
attractive virtue, but it cannot always be practised if it mean that the 
man with fierce vitality and with great driving power should regulate 
his movements by a common standard. Perhaps Mr. Chamberlain had 
himself as well as the famous Irish leader in his mind when he said 
to Mr. Barry O'Brien : ^ 'I have often thought Pamell was like 
Napoleon. He allowed nothing to stand in his way. He stopped at 
nothing to gain his end. If a man opposed him he flung him aside 
and dashed on.' 

Politics were the sole business of the latter half of his crowded life. 
'Vain hope,' wrote Carlyle, 'to make people happy by politics!' 
Even Mr. Morley quoted with sympathy the lines which Johnson 
added to The Traveller. 

How small, of all that human hearts endure. 
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure 1 

The member for West Birmingham knew his business better than to- 
decry his craft. He was devoted to it, and exalted it, believing that 
on the right settlement of politics depends to a large extent the com- 
fort, the well-being, and even the happiness of the great mass of mortals. 
All statesmen make flattering appeal to the most numerous section 
of their fellow-citizens, and Mr. Chamberlain declared that he would 
not care to be in Parliament if he could not serve the interests of the 
working classes. But did consideration for their interests determine 
his conduct at the crises of his career ? Or did he decide on his policy 
on other considerations, and then turn to the workers for the sake of 
the votes which they held ? To such questions irreconcilable answers 
are given. It is the fate of politicians to have their motives sus- 
pected, and least of all can the wrecker of two parties escape the com- 
mon lot. His qualities have exposed him to the sharpest, sternest 
scrutiny, and even when all the secrets of his time are revealed by the 
publication of the intimate letters which passed between himself and 
his contemporaries, critics may quarrel over a character so pungent 
and so provocative. 

' I do not wish,' he said in 1900, ' to live a minute longer than I can 
have opportimity and power to serve my country.' Every states- 
man may, without insincerity, express the same sentiment, and there 
is no reason to doubt the ardour of Mr. Chamberlain's patriotism. 
Early in his career he was cosmopolitan in his sympathies. The 
interests of humanity at large inflamed his zeal and adorned his perora- 

1 Life of C. S. Pamell. 



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334 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

-tions. In later years the world figured less in his rhetoric and the em- 
pire figured more. Other races were left to other reformers, and 
-while he renounced parochialism he shared in a new and special degree 
the view expressed in one of his favourite poems : 

That man's the best Cosmopolite 
Who loves his native country best. 

' Our opponents,' said the Radical Unionist, ' have forgotten noth- 
ing, repented of nothing, repudiated nothing.' * He has forgotten 
-everything, repented of everything, repudiated everything,' retorted 
Sir William Harcourt. Mr. Chamberlain agreed with Emerson that 
^ a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little statesmen and philo- 
sophers and divines.' Even in early days he was, as he boasted, an 
inconsistent person ; and he pointed out that it was very often the 
duty of a statesman to alter his opinions in altered circumstances. 
As to the circiunstances he constituted himself the judge. 
^ Of his confessions of change the following are examples : 

March 24, 1890. — ' I admit I was one of those who regretted the necessity 
lor the occupation of £g3^t ; and when the occupation was forced upon us I 
looked forward with anxiety to an early, it might be even an immediate evacua- 
tion . . . but I have changed my mind.' 

-* January 15, 189 1. — * We (Conservatives and Liberal Unionists) have both of 
us to put a good many of our prejudices and our opinions in our pockets.' 
J July 10, 1891. — ' All that has happened since 1885 has shaken my confidence 
in the particular solution of the Irish Question, which I was then prepared heartily 
to support.' 
» November 18, 1891. — ' I am very willing to confess that the word " Ransom " 

rnot very well chosen to express my own meaning.' 
1893 (An Irish Board of Control). — Admits he had changed the opinion he 
held in 1885 as to the possibility of entrusting even these limited powers to the 
present representatives of the majority in Ireland. 

-^ April 30, 1895. — ' A speech of mine has been quoted which, like all those 
speeches, was delivered a very considerable time ago, as to which I will say that 
■smce then no doubt some of my opinions have been modified and some of them 
^main unchanged.' 

May I, 1896. — ' In 1870 I was in favour of the extinction of the Voluntary 
Schools, but I have changed my mind.' 
^ April 24, 1899 (Old Age Pensions). — ' I have made various proposals and 
suggested various schemes, and some of the proposals which I have xnade in the 
fi^ instance, I have myself subsequently rejected as being inadequate and 
impracticable . ' 

September 23, 1900. — * I was in the Government which gave back the inde- 
pendence of the Transvaal after Majuba. It was a disastrous mistake.' 
-^ October 21, 1903 (Fair Trade and Preference). — * I admit that I have changed 
my opinion.' 

Plutarch reports that Demades, to excuse the inconsistency of his 
public character, used to say, * I may have asserted things contrary to 
my former sentiments, but not anything contrary to the true interest 
of the commonwealth.' In like manner the whole matter of inconsist- 
ency was sununed up by Mr. Chamberlain on May 5, 1905. * I know,* 
he remarked to his followers in Birmingham, ' that there are some peo- 



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CHARACTERISTICS 335 

fde who say that in the course of our long experience you and I have 
been inconsistent or have changed our opinions. I do not know that 
it matters whether we have or have not ; the main point is we should 
.always be right.' His view was made intelligible by the fact that he 
ignored the past. He was not troubled by ghosts. ' I am,' as he con- 
iessed, * not generally inclined to indulge much in political retrospect. 
I am more ready to say : Let the dead past bury its dead. Our busi- 
ness is with the present and with the future.' Perhaps he would have 
4one himself no injustice if he had merely said ' our business is with 
the present.' On his changing his view of a question while he was a 
member of Mr. Gladstone's Government a Birmingham gentleman 
.asked him, ' But how about your future if you change about like 
this ? ' * The future ! ' he replied. ' In politics a fortnight's future 
is quite enough for me.' On another occasion he remarked to a friend 
that * the man who thinks of the past is a fool ; the man who thinks 
^f the future is a visionary ; I think only of the present twenty-four 
hours.' 

Mr. Chamberlain possessed an imusually large combination of 
qualities which contribute to the success of the statesman in a self- 
governing country. He had the inborn instinct for politics ; he was 
the man of business with the art of administration ; he was endowed 
with the gift of speech both for the platform and for Parliament. In 
the Cabinet his quickness and resource fitted him equally for criticism 
and for compromise. Mr. Gladstone noted that he was ' a good man to 
talk to, not -only from his force and clearness, but because he speaks 
with reflection, does not misapprehend or (I think) suspect or make 
tmnecessary difficulties, or endeavour to maintian pedantically the 
tmiformity and consistency of his argument throughout.' These 
were qualities which gave him value in Council. 

As an administrator he surpassed the average statesman who learns 
business in a country house. At the Board of Trade he was, in certain 
matters, and perhaps not least in fiscal affairs, under the influence of 
the permanent officials, but he initiated many reforms, and carried 
isome of them. The Colonial Office found in him a strong chief. He 
did not interfere unnecessarily in small questions, but he mastered 
^eat affairs, and gave firm decisions. Frequently dming the Boer 
War he devoted fourteen hours a day to the public service, going early 
to his Department, thence to the House of Commons in the afternoon, 
and with an interval for dinner working till late at night. Civil ser- 
vants are pleased to have a political chief who is capable and powerful, 
not because they want to to be managed but because they want to have 
their business carried through the Cabinet and Parliament. Mr. 
Chamberlain made his Department the most prominent in the State, 
and got the best work possible out of its staff. The Kaffirs were right 



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336 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

when they described him as ' the man who puts things straight.' He 
showed strength even in refraining from jobs. The Secretary of State 
for the Colonies, not least among the Ministers, is troubled by applica- 
tions from persons who consider they have a claim on the party in 
power for appointments for themselves or their relatives. Such appli- 
cations were wrongly addressed to a chief who required efl&ciency. It 
was reported that he handed them over to be dealt with by the 
office in the ordinary routine. 

What has been said by Lord Rosebery of Pitt's devotion to the 
House of Commons may be said of Mr. Chamberlain's : ' The objects 
and amusements that other men seek in a thousand ways were for him 
all concentrated there. It was his mistress, his stud, his dice-box, 
his game-preserve ; it was his ambition, his library, his creed.' It 
was at Westminster that Mr. Chamberlain struggled hardest and gain- 
ed his highest reputation ; there he aroused the fiercest animosities 
and won the most notable victories. He imderstood the House of 
Commons. He knew its habits, its moods, its prejudices, its virtues ; 
he knew how to humour it, he often dared to defy it. He never des- 
pised it. At the end of twenty-eight years service, he declared : 
' During all that time my respect for its authority, my confidence in its 
judgment, my desire for its good opinion, has never wavered.' Nor 
did any section, however much it might dislike him, ever despise sa 
skilful and zealous a member. From the month that he took his seat 
till the day of his last speech he was an individual force, not always 
calculable, never negligible. 

The most passionate hours of the House of Commons for a quarter 
of a century were, as a rule, those when he was dominating the scene. 
Cool as a cucumber himself, he excited turmoil in others. The upright 
figure, the aggressive face, the mocking lips, the keen challenging eyes, 
the defiant nose, the eyeglass calmly placed in position, the clear-cut 
phrases, the many toned voice, were conspicuous in numberless de- 
bates when passion ran high at St. Stephen's. A man, like Jeremiah^ 
of strife and contention, he more frequently than most members used 
the words of warfare. 

Pleased with the danger, when the waves went high 
He sought the storms ; but for a calm unfit. 
Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit. 

Even in his most conciliatory mood — ^to adopt Sir William Har- 
court's metaphor — he ' mixed with his oil a little vinegar, so as to 
make the salad of his speeches agreeable to the palate.' Mr. Glad- 
stone remarked in old age : * ' I always made it a rule in the House of 
Conunons to allow nobody to suppose that I did not like him, and ta 
say as little as I could to prevent anybody from liking me.' Consider- 
* Life of Gladstone, by John Morley. 



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CHARACTERISTICS 337 

ing the intense friction and contention of public life, it was, he thought, 
saving of wear and tear that as many as possible, even among oppon- 
ents, should think well of one. On the other hand, Mr. Chamberlain 
showed his dislikes. He loved fighting, and feared no man's hate. 
' When I am struck I try to strike back again.' ' I have often been 
hard hit with reference to my public actions, and I have never com- 
plained, but I have endeavoured to give as good as I get.' His view of 
political ethics was expressed in a letter to Lord Randolph Churchill. 
Lord Randolph after resignation gave an assurance that Lord Salis- 
bury need not fear the slightest opposition from him, whereupon 
Mr. Chamberlain wrote : * When a man says that in no case will he 
return a blow he is very likely to be cuffed.' ^ And when the attack 
of his ally fell on himself he said : ' You know that I am the mildest 
of men, but I have a strong inclination to hit at those who strike me, 
and my experience teaches me that no private friendship can long 
resist the effect of public contest.' 

Sometimes he rubbed the sore and indulged in taunts which left 
feelings of resentment. For years the Nationalists bore a grudge 
r.gainst him for describing them as ' a kept party.' One of his most 
scathing gibes was flung at an Irish member who had made some com- 
ments on the lady whose name was associated with Mr. Pamell's in 
t he law courts. While these comments were fresh in the public memory 
he tried to deprive Mr. Chamberlain of the right to resume a debate. 
' I have noticed,* the latter calmly remarked, ' that whenever it 
is desirable to exhibit personal discourtesy towards any man — or 
any woman — ^the honourable and learned gentleman always presents 
himself to accomplish it.' The allusion to ' any woman ' was an 
imexpected and merciless thrust. Mr. Chamberlain's humour, too, 
left a blister. It was intended not to amuse but to ridicule ; the 
laughter it excited was always at the expense of somebody, and 
frequently the laughter was cruel. 

A new style of debate was popularised by the member for Birming- 
ham. The old school of oratory, with its learning and its pomp, 
was decaying when he entered the House, the fresh iyi^ of Parlia- 
mentarian introduced by the extension of the franchise requiring a 
simpler sort of speech. This was characterised by directness, and 
in Mr. Chamberlain's case by audacity. For the Grandisonian manner 
he substituted incisiveness. Bagehot has said that intelligibility was 
the first, second and third thing in Palmerston. ' No one resembled 
less than Lord Palmerston the fancied portrait of an ideal statesman 
laying down in his closet plans to be worked out twenty years hence. 
He was a statesman for the moment. Whatever was not wanted now, 
whatever was not practicable now, whatever would not take now, 
» Life of Lord Randolph Churchill, by W. S. ChurchiU. 

22 



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338 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

lie drove quite out of his mind/ This might have been written of 
Mr. Chamberlain ; and to his intelligibility and to his concentration 
on what would ' take/ he partly owed his Parliamentary success. His 
mind did not wander in speculation ; it was intensely practical, and 
he expressed it with the vigour and plainness of the market place. 

As a platform speaker Mr. Chamberlain has had few rivals in the 
poUtical domain. He knew the argtiments which imjx-ess the mass 
of men, and he knew how to present them in a popular form. At 
the height of his power at least, he was never dull. His personality 
was in itself an attraction. His alert, sharp face combined with a vi- 
brating voice and an incisive style to arrest attention and to impress 
a public meeting. Few politicians are good speakers. They rush 
io the platform and tumble out a medley of matter. There is no 
polish in their phrases, and very little arrangement in their arguments. 
The reputation of many of our front bench Parliamentarians might 
be ruined if a newspaper were to publish a full report of their speeches, 
giving each clumsy sentence as it is formed by pretentious Ups. Mr. 
Chamberlain had the gift of expression. He knew what he meant to 
say, and he said what he meant. Moreover, he spoke always with 
the air of conviction. What he stated on any occasion might be incon- 
sistent with what he had said formerly, but when he uttered it the 
listener felt that it was his firm and unqualified belief. 

A French writer has remarked that true eloquence consists in saying 
all that is proper, and nothing more. The latter part of this rule was 
not observed in some of Mr. Chamberlain's fiscal speeches. During 
the greater part of his career, however, he was distinguished, as com- 
pared with other politicians, by his brevity. Neither Lord Salisbury 
nor Mr. Asquith was ever diffuse, and the brilliant speaker who was 
trained in Birmingham was also among the least of offenders. As 
Mr. Asquith observed, he rarely digressed and he never lost his way. 
* I am grateful to providence,' he said with sly allusion to a friend 
and leader, ' that I am not m3rself a metaphysician.' He meant he 
was not as other men, whose views were vague and confused, and ill 
to understand. The power of clearly defining what we know and 
think might, in his opinion, be learned like any other branch of know- 
ledge. Mr. Chamberlain acquired the power by perseverance and 
practice. Frequently in debate he had only brief notes, but with his 
clear, cool, narrow mind, with his direct intellect and his Bterary instinct, 
he framed his sentences in so orderly a manner that they might have 
been reproduced without sub-editing. His addresses in the early 
'eighties were specially fine in form. They had a style, due probably 
to an inspiring teacher, such as Burke, which his later utterances 
lacked. 

Probably no man's words, not even Mr. Gladstone's, have occupied 



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CHARACTERISTICS 339 

so many columns in the newspapers as Mr. Chamberlain's. For thirty 
years he had the ear of the country, and for a quarter of a century 
many newspapers published his speeches verboHm, Mr. Frederic 
Harrison has pointed out that hardly a single adequate specimen of 
Chatham's oratory has been fully reported. Specimens of Mr. Cham- 
berlain's oratory would fiU many volumes, but effective as any man's 
speeches may be at the time of delivery their fame will perish, like the 
fame of a second-rate actor, unless they are supported by character 
and deeds. And who will say that the modem imperialist, with vol- 
umes of spoken words for his pedestal, will stand as high as Chatham 
with ' hardly a single adequate specimen ' of his oratory reported ? 

The speeches by Mr. Chamberlain which may live longest are those 
that he delivered in advocacy of the unauthorised programme. They 
are the speeches which his later admirers would most willingly forget, 
but the printed word remains as a guide to a new generation of Radicals, 
and as an illustration of the vanity of human forecasts. Their sin- 
cerity is as real as their passion ; and the least favourable critic of 
their policy feels that the orator was then, if ever, inspired by conviction. 
His power over an audience was unimpaired by years of change, and 
after Mr. Gladstone's death he was unequalled on the platform except 
by Lord Rosebery. As Achille Viallate, in his biography (1899) 
states, Mr. Chamberlain then stood in the front rank as a pofitical 
<»:ator, and knew, as nobody else knew, how to excite enthusiasm, 
how to dominate and carry away an audience. In his last active years 
his mastery was not so steadily maintained, but he continued to 
attract the attention and excite the wonder of the country by flashes of 
his old force. Matthew Arnold has said of Macaulay that he had his 
own heightened and telling way of putting things, ' and we must make 
allowance for it.' Mr. Chamberlain's heightened and telling way of 
putting things assisted him to capture popular audiences. 

Literary quotations abounded in his speeches, although they 
may not have indicated a deep knowledge of literature. The practice 
of quotation varies from generation to generation. Charles Fox used 
to say, ' No Greek ; as much Latin as you like ; and never French 
under any circumstances.' Later, the Duke of Wellington's advice 
to a member was, ' Say what you have to say, don't quote Latin ; 
and sit down.' Disraeli remarked that they often had Latin quota- 
tions in his day, but ' never from a member with a new constituency,' 
and when Greek was quoted ' the House was quite alarmed.' Greek 
went first. Since Mr. Gladstone's death it has scarcely ever been 
quoted in Parliament. Latin, too, has almost gone. Mr. Chamberlain, 
in his first important speech in the House, ventured on facUis descensus 
Avemo, but even tags and phrases found in popular dictionaries have 
been discouraged by the protests of Labour members. French has 



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340 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

come in although everybody laughs at everybody else's pronuncia- 
tion. ' No English poet/ said Fox, ' unless he has completed his cen- 
tury 1 ' Sir William Harcourt tried to observe this rule because his 
inclination ran that way. Most members, however, are more modem. 
Recent prose, even, has been quoted. Lord Hugh Cecil for instance 
introducing Mr. H. G. WeUs into debate and Mr. T. P. O'Connor givmg 
an extract from the book of the week. In Byways in the Classics 
Mr. Hugh E. P. Piatt predicts that quotations in the House of Conunons 
will be confined in the future to the Bible and Shakespeare ; and the 
Aihenaum, in a review, adds Dickens as a third source. Some of the 
most telling quotations given in Parliament are from Scripture, and 
not the least effective have come from men who make no claim to be 
religious. Hansard, however, is the book to which reference is made 
most frequently. It is safe for either party to quote Peel, and it is 
useful for a Tory to quote Gladstone. 

Among modem writers Mr. Chamberlain's range was wide. His 
favourite sources of quotation included Pickwick and the Biglow 
Papers ; he acquired a habit of citing vaguely ' the American poet ' 
(usually Longfellow), and in his later years he adorned his perorations 
with * what the colonial poet sa)^.' He made frequent use of Alice 
in Wonderland which is the non-political book most often mentioned 
in the House of Conunons. Sometimes the form of his literary allus- 
ions was amateurish. In 1885 he referred to * the late Mr. Carlyle ' ; 
in 1893 he quoted ' a work called Romola — I think by George Eliot '. 
On another occasion he attributed to Mrs. Malaprop, Dogberr>''s 
' comparisons are odorous ' ; perhaps he was thinking of her remark ; 
' No caparisons. Miss, if you please ; caparisons don't suit a young 
lady.' ' Only Pretty Fanny's way ' is a gibe much employed in Parlia- 
ment, and nobody repeated Thomas Pamell's words with more ex- 
pressiveness than Mr. Chamberlain. He went also to Adam Bede 
for Mrs. Peyser's sharp sayings. Like many other members he cited 
Oliver Twist ' asking for more,' and he taunted opponents, from Mr. 
Gladstone downwards, on having * as Uttle to tell as Canning's needy 
knifegrinder.' His favourite Shakespearian quotation was: * Age 
cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.' He had a 
partiality also for — 

Vex not his ghost : 

Oh, let him pass : he hates him 

That would upon the rack of this tough world 

Stretch him out longer. 

A familiar verse from Bayly, with the pronouns altered, he put into 
the mouth of Liberals, in reference to Home Rule : — 



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CHARACTERISTICS 341 

Oh no 1 we never mention it ; 
Its name is never heard. 
Our lips are now forbid to speak 
That once familiar word. 

It is a mistake to suppose, as unkind critics have suggested, that Mr. 
Chamberlain relied for his literary ornaments on books of familiar 
quotations. An intimate Radical friend from whom he parted in 
1886 asserted that he was in no sense a well-read or well-informed 
man outside such affairs as circumstances compelled him to master. 
He read, however, a great deal in a desultory manner. There is 
evidence in some of his early articles and speeches of the influence of 
Mr. Morley's favourite authors ; so that he had good direction. At 
the outset of his career he quoted Bacon, referring to him as the great- 
est member who ever sat in the House of Lords. To the Town Council 
of Birmingham, in 1874, he introduced Gulliver. In the Fortnightly 
at the same period he applied two lines from Milton to Mr. Goschen, 
thus: — 

In arms not worn, in foresight much advanced. 
To wage, by force or guile, eternal war. 

Not foreseeing that he would Uve to be a pessimist, he was accustomed 
to repeat in his most sarcastic tone : — 

Now the world is a dreffle mean place, for our sins. 
Where ther' ollus is critters about with long pins, 
A-prickin' the globes we've blowed up with sech care. 
An' provin' there's nothin' inside but bad air. 

One of his happiest efforts was, in 1881, his application to gentle Sir 
Stafford Northcote of the description given of Madame Blaize : — 

She strove the neighbourhood to please, 
With manners wondrous winning; 
And never followed wicked ways — 
Unless when she was sinning. 

He was also happy in 1882, when apropos of Lord Randolph Church- 
ill's style of criticism, he recalled the directions given in The Compleat 
Angler for baiting a hook with a live frog. He summarised Izaak 
Walton's directions by sa5dng ' put your hook in his mouth, and out 
of his gills, and tie his leg to the wire with a fine thread ; and in so 
doing use him as though you loved him.' This, by the way, was a 
good description of his own tender method of dealing with opponents. 
An opponent of whom he often made fun sent him to the pages of 
Dickens. Sir Richard Cross's declaration, in 1883, that at last the 
time had come for vigorous action by the Conservatives, reminded 
him of ' the amusing incident in the Pickwick Papers, when Mr. Weller 
attempted to rescue his master from the constables, and when Mr. 
Snodgrass, in a truly Christian spirit, and in order that he might take 



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342 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

no one unawares, announced in a very loud tone that he was going 
to begin, whereupon he was immediately secured without malring 
the slightest resistance/ He also declared that Sir Richard asked 
questions after the fashion of Sergeant Buzfuz, as though he expected 
to get his witness committed for contempt. During the Scottish tour 
in 1885, Mr. Chamberlain looked up Bums, and from a less known 
poet he quoted with electrical effect the pathetic Unes of which there 
are various renderings, beginning : — 

From the dim shieling on the misty island 
Mountains divide ns and a world of seas. 

Preaching the gospel of humanity, he replied to those who rebuked 
him for impetuosity in the fine words of Leonato : — 

It is aU men's office to speak patience 

To those that wring under the load of sorrow ; 

But no man's virtue, nor sufficiency. 

To be so moral, when he shall endure 

The like himself. 

Mr. Chamberlain's allusions ranged from the optimism of Candide 
(which he attributed to Mr. Goschen) to the remedies of Dr. Sangrado ; 
he likened Sir William Harcourt to Falstaff , Dugald Dalgetty and Mr. 
Turveydrop ; as we have seen, he linked Mr. Morley with Mr. Pecksniff 
and Sir George Trevelyan with Joseph Surface ; he compared more 
than one statesman to Mark Tapley, and jeered at Mr. Gibson (after- 
wards Lord Ashbourne) for playing the part of Sancho Panza to Lord 
Salisbury. His quotations roamed from Faust to comic opera. He 
quoted Coleridge and Moore and Prior ; he was fond of Cowper and 
Pope ; he gave a pungent extract from Walter Savage Landor's Imag- 
inary Conversations ; and several times he made effective use of Chailes 
Churchill, the Uterary bravo noted for scurrilous satire. He mocked 
his opponents, from peers to Radicals, with the couplet : — 

We kicked them downstairs with such a sweet grace 
That they thought we were handing them up. 

For the most characteristic quotation of his late Imperial days he 
went to Byron : — 

A thousand years scarce serve to form a State, 
An hour may lay it in the dust. 

Few of Mr. Chamberlain's speeches on tariff reform were complete 
without poetry. Frequently he quoted from authors whom he did 
not name. ' And such poetry I ' exclaimed Mr. Churchill, as if the 
exclamation were sufficient in its scorn. Very rarely did he dte any 
lines quite exactly. In some cases the variation might have been a 
fault of memory, but occasionally as has been said of Scott with respect 



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CHARACTERISTICS 345 

to his Journal, ' it would seem that he deliberately made free with the 
words of his author, to adapt them more pertinently to his own nux>d 
or the impulse of the moment.' 

Scarcely any enduring phrases sprang from Mr. Chamberlain. 
Seldom, indeed, does a poUtician produce a literary pearl, and modem 
catch-words, as a rule, lack originality. * Peace with honour,' a phrase 
used by a statesman who was a master of language, was traced to Ktt, 
Burke, Cromwell, to George Wither's Vox Pacifica, to Shakespeare 
and to Sir Robert Cecil in 1598 ; Disraeli's ' plimdering and blunder-^ 
ing ' was copied from Bolingbroke ; ' bag and baggage,' familiarised 
by Mr. Gladstone, had been put into Touchstone's mouth by Shake- 
speare, and used in The Holy War by Bimyan ; ' by Jingo,' the 
refrain of a militant music-hall ditty, which led Sir Wilfrid Lawson in 
January, 1878 to call the noisy patriots ' Jingoes,' was an expression 
employed by certain fine ladies in the time of The Vicar of Wakefield ; 
' to kill Home Rule with kindness ' was an adaptation by an Irish Chief 
Secretary from Petruchio's * way to kill a wife with kindness ' ; and Mr. 
Morley's ' end it or mend it ' was f oimd in The Monastery, Don Juan and 
the letters of Erasmus. Among the picturesque metaphors of recent 
years were Mr. Asquith's ' ploughing the sand ' and Lord Rosebery's 
' dean slate ' and ' lonely furrow,' while Sir Henry Campbell-Banner- 
man gave a word to controversy by satirising a phase of Irish agitation 
as ' Ulsteria.' Mr. Chamberlain's ' filling the cup ' described the 
accumulation of Radical grievances against the House of Lords long^ 
after he ceased to have any ; he took * they toil not, neither do they 
spin ' from the sublimest sermon ; his ' what I have said, I have said,"^ 
the motto of a baronet, was used by Thomas Paine ; and although he 
gave currency to ' little Englander ' it was first suggested in 1884 by 
the Pall Matt GazeUe. 

A resemblance to Pitt was detected in Mr. Chamberlain. Punch 
depicted him gazing at a portrait of that strong statesman and sa5dng, 
' Yes ; no doubt we are very much alike. He wanted only the eye- 
glass.' Mr. Thomas Hardy, alluding to ' the deanly-cut, exquisitely 
pursed-up mouth of William Pitt ' as represented in the bust by Nolle- 
kens, says it is a mouth which is in itself a yoimg man's fortime, if 
property exercised. It brought fortime to the member for West 
Birmingham with its keenness, force and decision, with its tight 
snap, and its curl of irony and scorn. Mr. Chamberlain's eyes were 
difficult to fathom ; they were cold and yet challenging, as if 
always ready for combat. The general expression of his features 
in conversation indicated a vigilant composure, with a slight disdain. 
Caricaturists in his late years gave him a fox-like aspect with what 
Mr. George Meredith called an adventurous nose. His face, like Mac- 
beth's, was ever as a book where men might read strange matters, a. 



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344 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

face of restless thoughts and deep designs. His head was commonly 
represented as small, but seen sideways it surprised one by its length. 
The secret of youth was possessed by this wonderful man for an amaz- 
ing period. When nearly sixty he seemed at a distance to be only 
about thirty. The youthful illusion was aided by the clean-shaven 
face, the slight whisker of early manhood having disappeared in middle 
age, and by the smoothly-brushed, dark hair, as well as by the 
alacrity of the figure. In his last Parliamentary decade the stoop 
of the shoulders, the lines on the forehead, the streaks of grey in the 
hair, betrayed the approach of the winter of life, but the features main- 
tained the expression of sharp intelligence and indomitable will. So 
long as his form was erect Mr. Chamberlain looked above the middle 
height. He always dressed with obvious care, and the orchid in the 
button-hole added to the conspicuous smartness of his appearance. 

One who was well acquainted with most of his contemporaries has 
said that he knew no man with so strong a will as Mr. Chamberlain, 
except Mr. Gladstone. Another observer with good opportunities of 
judging him described him as a creature of impulse, and although the 
description sounded sarcastic in many ears, Mr.Labouchere testified that 
' he adopted a course without much consideration.' However this might 
be, when he took a decision he carried it out with a concentration and 
energy that moved mountains. He was the most strenuous politician 
of his time ; engrossed in the business of the kingdom and the 
empire, he was determined to have it transacted as much as possible 
in his own way. Egotism was naturally as conspicuous in Mr. Cham- 
berlain as in other able and ambitious men. ' I ' figured in his official 
utterances, where the average minister would have spoken of ' the 
Government.' When he complained that he was introduced into all 
the orations of his opponents, like King Charles's head into Mr. Dick's 
petition, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman truly retorted that he was 
the occupier of that place in his own speeches. 



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XLV 
THE FINAL YEARS 

* The history of a life is the history of a body no less than that of a soul.* — 
John Morley [Rousseau). 

WITH dramatic exactness Mr. Chamberlain's active career ter- 
minated with his three score years and ten. His birthday 
was celebrated with high honours, and then came sudden silence, 
followed by long seclusion. 

' Upon the rack of this tough world ' 

his life was stretched out a good deal longer, but in such a manner 
that the hearts of opponents were softened. It was, for him, a sort 
of death in life. 

The terrific overthrow of the Unionists at the general election in 
January, 1906, failed to subdue Mr. Chamberlain's spirit. He had 
foreseen defeat, and although now confronted by an inunense force 
of exulting enemies, he looked forward bravely and briskly to the time 
when, free from the clogging unpopularity of the Balfour Administra- 
tion, his own policy would be presented at the polls. Now that the 
Unionists were out of ofiSce he hoped to draw them as an organized 
army into the fiscal campaign. Taking his place on the front Opposi- 
tion bench among the members of the late Cabinet and leading the 
party with conspicuous skill while Mr. Balfour was in search of a seat, 
he rallied the dejected men and with high words ' raised their fainting 
courage and dispell'd their fears.' His firm intention to sweep 
aside restraints and pursue his policy at all risks was made manifest 
in a remarkable letter which he addressed to Lord Ridley, an enthu- 
siastic ofiScer of the Tariff Reform League, on February 6. ' From 
the beginning,' he wrote, ' I have made it absolutely clear that in no 
circimfistances would I be a candidate for the leadership of the Unionst 
party — first, because after having worked in the closest friendship with 
Mr. Balfour for twenty years I wiH not place myself in competition 
with him now ; and secondly, because I entirely agree with those who 
say that the leader of a party, seven-tenths of which are Conserva- 
tives, should be himself a Conservative.' These words would have 
been meaningless if the idea of leadership which he disavowed had 

345 



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346 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

not been put forward in some Unionist quarters. It was notoriously 
favoured by the Tariff Reform ' whole-hoggers.' Mr. Chamberlain 
declared, however, that there was no question of repudiating the 
leadership of Mr. Balfour or of putting undue pressure upon him to 
abandon his opinions or his friends. ' On the other hand/ he added 
in a tone of menace, ' Tariff Reformers sincerely believe in their prin- 
ciples, and cannot be expected to put them aside to suit the exigencies 
of party wire-pullers.' 

The ominous character of this warning was recognized by all poli- 
ticians, and in spite of Mr. Chamberlain's protest. Liberals at least 
believed that he would soon be compelled to take the post for which 
he was not a candidate. Those who were in his confidence say 
that he contemplated the issue of a manifesto with a view to the 
formation of a separate party upon a tariff reform and social reform 
basis. An exchange of notes, however, passed between himself and 
Mr. Balfour, with the result that a formula, devised by Mr. Austen 
Chamberlain, was agreed upon and placed in writing. ' I hold,' Mr. 
Balfour certified, ' that fiscal reform is, and must remain, the first 
constructive work of the Unionist party.' Accepting this declaration. 
Mr. Chamberlain placed his services at the defeated leader's disposal, 
and the allied statesmen sat again side by side when Mr. Balfour was 
elected by the City of London. 

A slight attack of influenza troubled Mr. Chamberlain at the ban- 
ning of 1906, and in spring he suffered from his old enemy, gout. His 
manner became strangely restless. Both in and out of Parliament, 
however, he took a bold part in controversy. When Mr. Asquith, as 
Chancellor of the Exchequer, b^;an to prepare the way for old age 
pensions, their early advocate assumed a critical attitude. Mr. Cham- 
berlain repeated emphatically that never in the whole course of his 
poUtical life had he promised pensions ; and he asserted that all he 
had done was to express his sense of the necessity of enabling the 
industrious working people to make a better provision for old age and 
to put before them two practical schemes. ' A universal old age pen- 
sion,' he held, ' is impracticable from the point of view of its expense, 
and is immoral and imdesirable from the point of view of its influence 
upon thrift and industry.' This was almost his final contribution to 
the discussion of a subject which he more than any other statesman 
had forced on the attention of the country. 

A still more pathetic interest clings to the speeches which he de- 
livered on the education question when it was dealt with by the bill 
of the Liberal Government. It was on this theme that he addressed 
the House of Commons for the first time in 1876, and on this theme, 
in 1906, he addressed it for the last time. Although regarded by 
Liberals as a renegade on accoimt of his hostility to the plan which 



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THE FINAL YEARS 347 

the Lords rejected, he claimed a certain consistency in principle. ' I 
hold as I have always done/ he wrote on April 25, ' that there are only 
two just ways of settling this question. One is that the State should 
confine itself to secular instruction, giving equal facilities to all denomi- 
nations to provide the religious education which may be desired by the 
parents for their children. The other is that the State should provide 
religious education for all, according to the wishes that may be 
expressed by the parents of the children. Of these two alternatives I 
myself greatly prefer the first, and believe that ultimately it is in this 
direction that a final settlement must be looked for.' In the spirit of 
this letter Mr. Chamberlain took part, on May 9, in the second reading 
debate on Mr. BirreU's bill embod5dng the principles of pubUc control 
of public money and abolition of tests for teachers. Recalling his 
maiden speech, delivered thirty years previously, he said it was very 
curious to look back and see that the position remained exactly the 
same, and that we had not proceeded one step towards a final settle- 
ment. Once more he expressed the opinion that an entire separation 
between the work of the State and the work of the individual or 
denomination offered the only foundation on which to establish a fair 
and impartial system. When he spoke of ' what we desire,' Sir Henry 
Campbell-Bannerman archly inquired who were ' we,' and ever ready 
with a reply he said ' we ' meant those who agreed with ' me.' In this 
case ' we ' included few of the Conservatives. 

Mr. Chamberlain spoke for the last time in the House of Commons 
on June 27. His first speech (in 1876) was in committee on Lord 
Sandon's Education Bill ; his final words were in committee on Mr. 
BirreU's. It is encouraging, incidentally, to note that at the dose of 
his career in Parliament he testified that there was one thing on which 
they might always appeal to the democracy of this coimtry, and that 
was on the eternal principle of common justice. To the last, as he 
thus showed, his faith in his fellow-coimtrymen was maintained. His 
own self-confidence also was fully preserved. As noted in the chapter 
on his Personal Life, Dr. Clifford had remarked that they all knew 
what ' Joey wanted.' Mr. Chamberlain retorted disdainfully that he 
was not certain his critic did know all he wanted. Unfortunately 
the sands of his opportimities of telling what he wanted were almost 
run out. Speaking a second time the same day he advocated universal 
facilities for parents, who dissented from the teaching in any given 
school, to secure for their children the kind of religious education which 
they desired. These were his closing words in ParUamentary debate. 
A week later, July 4, on an amendment to the Education Bill, he gave 
his last vote. 

The celebrations of his seventieth birthday, which took place at 
Birmingham on Saturday and Monday, July 7 and 9, were characterized 



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348 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

by a personal devotion and an enthusiasm which deeply moved him. 
At a civic limcheon on the 7th he displayed remarkable sensibility ; 
' tears stood in his eyes, and his voice quavered ' while he told his 
fellow-townsmen that he Hld foimd in their affection an overwhdming 
reward for a strenuous life of work and contest. Along with the 
members of his family and attended by a procession of eighty motor- 
cars, he visited six pubhc parks where the people were entertained, 
making a three hours' journey over a route of seventeen miles through 
decorated streets, lined by cheering citizens. On the second day of 
the celebrations delegates from all parts of the coimtry presented 
addresses of congratulation, and numerous telegrams were received 
from across the seas. There was a political demonstration in Bingley 
Hall, the scene of many of his triumphs,, at which the hero was greeted 
with extraordinary fervour, and it was followed by a torchlight pro- 
cession, which attended Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain to their gates. All 
this, while very gratifying, was excessively fatiguing. 

Suddenly a veil dropped over the life of the man who had been so 
conspicuous for over thirty years. In the middle of July the country 
learned that on the 13th, at his London residence, he had been seized 
by illness. His absence from the wedding of his son, Austen, eight 
days later, was the first indication of its gravity. Much reserve was 
maintained as to the character of the ailment. It was described by 
friends as an attack of gout, and they ridiculed rumoms about a 
paralytic stroke. When the invalid returned to Birmingham in the 
middle of September the world was informed that he had to be con- 
veyed from the train to his carriage in a chair, and it was ominously 
explained about the same time that his fingers were so cramped that 
he could not write with comfort. 

For six months after going home to Highbury Mr. Chamberlain 
was seen by scarcely any one except his family and attendants. He 
spent several hours daily in his garden and greenhouses, and by the 
end of the year he was * permitted to read.' In March, 1907, he 
travelled to London with as little publicity as possible, a compart- 
ment in the train being reserved for him under an assumed name, 
and after a rest he proceeded to St. Raphael, near Cannes. A fellow- 
passenger on the Channel boat said he was so changed that he was not 
generally recognized. In June he came back to England, and several 
times during smnmer he passed between London and Birmingham. 
On railway platforms he walked slowly, leaning upon a stick and 
supported by a companion at his side. He was tmable to use his 
right hand ; his right leg also was affected ; and his appearance was 
greatly altered by the spectacles which he now wore instead of the 
familar monocle. For a long time yet Mr. Chamberlain could not 
receive his friends, but by the close of 1907 he was able to attend to 



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THE FINAL YEARS 349 

letters and the world gladly heard then that there was a possibility 
of his health being restored. * I hope/ he wrote, * it may not be long 
before I take my place again in the front rank of the fight for Unionism 
and the policy for which it now stands/ and in the following February 
(1908) he caused another letter to be written in a similar strain. * I 
am getting better but am still far from having recovered my ancient 
strength. I hope, however, that this is only a question of time and 
patience.' 

Subsequent years passed like 1907. For several months in the spring 
and sununer of 1908 the intrepid invalid, whose helpless condition 
excited universal sympathy, was abroad, trying a cure at Aix- 
les-Bains after his visit to Cannes, and going also to Ouchy. He 
acknowledged the salutations ofjpeople who met him, while travelling, 
by raising his left hand. The autiunn was spent at Highbury, where he 
took drives and continued to enjoy the hours in his garden, and he 
was in London for several weeks in December. His new Ufe fell into 
a routine. He spent the early months of successive years at Cannes 
and the remainder of the time at his home at Birmingham with the 
exception of occasional visits to Prince's Gardens. At Cannes he 
occupied the Ville Victoria, its simny garden, stocked with sub-tropical 
trees and plants, sloping down to La Napoule Bay, and commanding a 
magnificent view. 

In his feebleness and seclusion, as his family reported, Mr. Cham- 
berlain watched political events with undiminished interest. To the 
growth of the new fiscal doctrines his encouragement was essential ; 
without it they might have quickly drooped and faded. Seldom has 
the life of a statesman been so indispensable to followers. Many 
letters and telegrams expressing his wishes and views were drawn from 
Mr. Chamberlain by Tariff Reform candidates and societies, and his 
hold on the popular imagination was maintained by the idea of the 
strong man stricken in body but valorous in mind. In May, 1908, by a 
letter written in his name he expressed the conviction that Tariff Reform 
was now being adopted by the people. ' They see,' he said, ' that it is 
only in this way that one can keep our position against our foreign 
competitors and they will not allow what our forefathers won for us 
to be filched from us by modem indifference.' A touch of the old 
adroit hand was given in a message read at a limcheon at which Mr. 
Balfour was entertained, in March, 1909, by the Executive of the 
Tariff Reform League. The founder of the League regretted that he 
could not attend to ' welcome our leader on the occasion of his doing 
honour to an Association that was brought into being to advance the 
first constructive policy of the party which he leads.' No doubt the 
' leader ' remembered that the Association was formed to promote 
a policy initiated not by himself but by his colleague ! 



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350 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

Great transactions were carried out after Mr. Chamberlain's 
voice and presence were withdrawn from Parliament by the Bfinis- 
try of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and his successor, Mr. 
Asquith. Responsible government was conceded to the Transvaal and 
the Orange River Colony, which subsequently formed part of the South 
African Union, old age pensions were provided for the poor at home, 
and Mr. Lloyd George's 1909 budget with its land and liquor taxes 
and its increased burdens on the very rich led to the opening of a new 
chapter of the constitutional struggle. The House of Lords, which had 
already defied the huge majority in the representative chamber by 
rejecting several of the ministerial measures, was encouraged by Mr. 
Chamberlain to throw out the Finance Bill embodying the budget. At 
a meeting at Birmingham in September, 1909, when Mr. Balfour, who 
was a guest at Highbury, bore witness to the continued high courage, 
clear intellect and assured judgment of his host, a letter was ' amid 
tense silence ' produced from the invalid expressing the hope that the 
Peers would see their way to force a general election. By this 
stroke the fate of the notorious budget in its first Parliament was 
sealed, for to many Unionists — as one of the ablest of them said — 
Mr. Chamberlain's voice still represented the guiding note. 'The 
master hand,' Mr. F. E. Smith testified, * was still there, the old skill, 
the old courage were still undirruned ; the voice, though hushed for 
the moment in our public controversies, was ever ready in brave, and 
wise coimsel.' 

Mr. Chamberlain proceeded to London at the end of October and 
remained there till the Peers, who were advised by Lord Milner to 
damn the consequences, referred the Finance Bill to the country. 
Their action was defended in a fearless, unflinching manner by their old 
assailant, who now wrote that their only offence was that of giving 
the nation a chance to speak for itself. A few friends saw Mr. Cham- 
berlain during the crisis, and one of them, the son of his early political 
comrade. Admiral Maxse, said that those who had been privileged to 
discuss public affairs with him were more than ever impressed by his 
keenness, foresight, wisdom, valour and confidence. Recalling a fine 
tribute paid to another famous British statesman, Mr. Maxse reported 
that every combatant left his presence a better and a braver man. 
His absence from the field, however, was a misfortune for the Unionists 
during the general election of January, 1910. They could truly say, 
as the Carthaginians wrote over the grave of Hannibal : ' We vehem- 
ently desired him in the day of battle.' The bold challenge of the 
Peers did not result in triumph. Although a large number of the 
Liberals fell, the Unionists were left in a minority. 

A most moving spectacle was witnessed by the House of Commons 
on February 16, 1910, when the statesman who had personified vigour 



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THE FINAL YEARS 351 

and force came, after an absence of three-and-a-half years, to take the 
oath in the new Parliament. 

' Doth any here know me ? This is not Lear : 
Doth Lear walk thus ? speak thus ? 
Where are his eyes ? ' 

At the close of an afternoon devoted to the swearing in of members, 
when the House was almost empty, an old stricken man came slowly 
from behind the Speaker's chair, leaning on a stick in his left hand and 
putting his right foot stifSy down on the heel, Mr. Austen Chamberlain 
supporting him on the right side and the Liberal Unionist Whip ready 
to aid him at his other elbow. His right arm was held closely 
to his breast ; his face was fireless, and spectacles gave to a familiar 
figure a strange, almost disguising aspect. Onlookers felt a shock of 
sorrow when in the broken, helpless man they recognized one by 
whom ParUament had been inspired and mastered. On his being 
assisted to a convenient place on the Treasury Bench, not then occu- 
pied by any of the ministers, a copy of the oath was held before him 
and he recited its terms as they were read out, phrase by phrase, by 
his son, his voice being quite audible but his articulation indistinct. 
Mr. Austen signed the roll on his behalf, the invalid confirming the 
signature by formally touching the pen. ' Mr. Chamberlain, West 
Birmingham, sir,' announced the Clerk of the House, with a tone of 
emotion in his voice as he presented, according to custom, the newly 
sworn in member to the Speaker ; and Mr. Lowther, leaning from his 
chair, grasped the left hand which was offered, while he whispered, 
' How do you do ? Glad to see you again.' Having taken the oath, 
Mr. Chamberlain could be ' paired ' in divisions with an absentee on 
the other side. His ' pair ' was his only part in the proceedings of the 
short Parhament elected in January, 1910. 

Visits from the Palace were paid to him. King Edward called 
at Prince's Gardens in the summer of 1909 and spent a considerable 
time with Mr. Chamberlain. This was the end of the association 
which began at Birmingham in 1874 when the Radical mayor's recep- 
tion of the Prince of Wales excited so much curiosity. On his retxun 
from his annual visit to Cannes in 1910 he received from King George 
the same honour as had been paid to him by King Edward. The new 
Sovereign, a few weeks after succeeding to the throne, took tea 
with Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain and remained in conversation with 
them for an hour. For the first time since his illness the invalid 
spent his birthday this year in London. Personal friends called at his 
residence and ninety Tariff Reformers belonging to the two Houses of 
Parliament celebrated the occasion by dining together at Prince's 
Restaurant. 



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352 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

The year 1910 was notable for the development of the constitu- 
tional struggle. Resolutions to curtail the veto of the Lords were 
passed by the House of Commons, and a conference between leading 
members of the two great parties having failed to secure agreement, 
the Government appealed to the country on the subject in December, 
and although Mr. Balfour endeavoured to conciliate the Unionist 
Free Fooders by agreeing to a special Referendiun on Tariff Reform, Mr. 
Asquith was maintained in office and enabled to carry out his plans 
by a combination of Liberal, Nationalist, and Labour members. 

Once more, on February 2, 1911, Mr. Chamberlain visited the House 
of Conunons, and took the oath. This he did in the same manner and 
with the same assistance as in the previous Parliament. In some 
respects he seemed a little more hke his former self. His face as he 
surveyed the scene had the old keen glance, and there was a note of the 
old vibrating tone in his voice, although the words came forth in jerks. 
An orchid in his coat also reminded observers of the da)^ that were no 
more — ^the great days of combat and of passion. When the Clerk 
held out to him the pen with which his son had entered his name on the 
roll he smiled and said, * Thank you,' as he touched it and he replied 
to the Speaker's welcome with a jocular remark. This was the last 
time he was seen, the last time his voice was heard, in the House. 

At the opening of the new Parliament the cause with which his old 
age was associated was still championed in its entirety by those who 
believed in it. The reciprocity agreement entered into by the Govern- 
ments of the United States and of Canada led to the renimciation of the 
idea of imperial preference by one or two journals which had espoused 
Tariff Reform, but Mr. Lyttelton, speaking from the Unionist front 
bench on February 9, 1911, conveyed to Mr. Chamberlain the affec- 
tionate assurance that his friends * had not abandoned the cause of 
which he was for so long the central and inspiring figure, to which he 
had devoted so much labour and for which he had done and suffered 
so much.' While treating the American reciprocity arrangement as a 
new proof of the necessity of their own proposals, the Tariff Reformers 
were greatly encoiu-aged when it was rejected at a general election in 
Canada. On his 75th birthday (1911) their honoiu-ed leader, whose 
health was better than it had been since it broke down, received again 
a very large number of congratulatory messages from all parts of the 
empire. There was on this as on similar occasions a dinner party of 
his prominent followers at Prince's Restaiu-ant, the number of the 
company representing the combined years of his life and of his Parlia- 
mentary membership, his favoimte orchid being worn by all present. 
His reply to their telegram had a touch of pathos. ' I have no doubt,' 
he said, * about the ultimate success of oiu* policy, although it is 
late in coming.' 



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THE FINAL YEARS 355. 

At the constitutional crisis in the summer of 1911, however, Mr. 
Chamberiain's influence failed. Unionists were divided in opinion on 
the tactics to be pursued with reference to the Parliament Bill for the 
limitation of the power of the Peers. After Mr. Asquith had, on July 
20, informed the leaders of the Opposition that the King would con- 
sider it his duty to exercise his prerogative to secure the passing into- 
law of the bill in substantially its House of Commons form, the Marquis 
of Lansdowne, with the approval of Mr. Balfour, advised his friends 
not to insist on vital amendments. Mr. Chamberlain, on the other 
hand, gave encouragement to those who under the leadership of aged 
Lord Halsbury, the ex-Lord Chancellor, persisted in a resistance which 
if successful would have compelled the Government to resort to a large 
creation of peers in order to carry their measure. ' The country,' he 
wrote, ' owes a great deal to Lord Halsbury, since in the crisis of her 
fate he has refused to surrender his principles.' His intervention on 
this occasion gave offence in some Unionist quarters. The Times dis- 
paraged advice given from ' a retirement which ill-health had for years- 
forced upon Mr. Chamberlain,' and the Spectator, which held him 
responsible for the disastrous rejection of Mr. Lloyd George's budget 
by the House of Lords as well as for the present resistance of the 
extremists, described with candour and pimgency what the Unionist 
party owed to the politician who eight years previously started the 
Tariff Reform propaganda : ' He split the party in 1903 ; he conmiitted 
it to a fatal step in 1909 ; he has split it once more in 1911.' At this 
stage he was beaten by Mr. Balfour ; the resisters who had received 
the blessing of Birmingham were defeated ; and the Parliament Act 
was passed. 

To his disappointment at the course of political events — ^the con- 
tinued success of Liberalism and the long exclusion of his friends from 
ofl&ce — a personal pang may have been added by his son's failure to- 
obtain the Unionist leadersWp when it was resigned by Mr. Balfour in 
November, 1911. Although considerations of health influenced the ex- 
Prime Minister in withdrawing from the leadership, all the world believed 
that he had been discouraged by the dissensions among his colleagues. 
Mr. Austen Chamberlain had, like his father, taken the side of the con- 
stitutional ' die-hards ' against the advice of the official chiefs, and on 
the day of Mr. Balfour's resignation he threw over the Referendum on 
Tariff Reform to which they had beeh committed and announced that 
a Unionist Government would carry out their fiscal principles ' without 
need for further mandate, sanction, or approbation.' By such dissent 
he lost the sympathy of some of Mr. Balfour's personal friends. The 
party in choosing a new leader was almost equally divided between 
Mr. Austen Chamberlain and Mr. Walter Long, a genial, fluent country 
gentleman, experienced in affairs and popular in the House. In these- 

2.^ 



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354 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

<drcumstances the two favourites waived their own claims, and the 
leadership fell to Mr. Bonar Law, who had been only eleven years in 
Parliament and had never sat in a Cabinet, having held only a minor 
office. Although Mr. Bonar Law was one of the most thoroughgoing 
advocates of Tariff Reform his appointment could not have given 
imalloyed pleasure at Highbury. Mr. Austen Chamberlain, by his 
•solid talents, his industry, and his good Parliamentary style, had estab- 
lished a fair daim to the first place, but in the son's case (for a time 
At least), as in the father's, the leadership was lost by the too eager 
holding out of a hand which had seemed within reach of the prize. 

Liberal Unionism as a separate force ceased to exist, so far as the 
•central organization was concerned, in 1912. It had played a powerful 
part in politics, but ever since the Coalition in 1895 the distinction 
between the allied sections gradually became slighter, and while old 
Liberal Unionists died, nobody was bom a Liberal Unionist. The 
National Conservative Union and the Liberal Unionist Council were 
accordingly amalgamated in 1912. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain wrote 
expressing his approval of the amalgamation, and Mr. Austen Cham- 
berlain announced that in future he meant to call himself a Unionist, 
Thus ' Liberal ' dropped practically out of his life, although Liberal 
Unionism still survived in Birmingham. 

The subsequent history of the Unionists was not quite agreeable 
to the Chamberlain circle. Although they won by-elections, their 
-<iuarrels over food taxes were renewed. The Referendum, which the 
-extreme Tariff Reformers had steadily opposed, was abandoned by 
the official leaders two years after its adoption, Lord Lansdowne, as 
their mouthpiece, announcing in November 14, 1912, that if they won 
at the general election they would be free to undertake Tariff Reform 
and to enter into reciprocal arrangements without further reference 
to the constituencies ; but so great was the disquiet caused by this 
step among Unionist Free Fooders that Mr. Bonar Law resorted to 
another device, and informed the country that food duties would only 
be imposed if the Colonies, at a conference, considered them essential 
to Imperial Preference. The new device, in turn, led to a very sharp 
'Conffict, one section of Unionists still holding with Mr. Chamberlain 
that ' if you are to give a preference to the Colonies you must put a 
tax upon food,' and another crying out that the electors would never 
agree to a food tax. The Unionist Party in the House of Commons 
took the matter into their own hands, and presented to their leader in 
January, 1913, a memorial requesting that ' if, when a Unionist Govern- 
ment has been returned to power, it proves desirable, after consulta- 
tion with the Dominions, to impose new duties on any articles of food 
in order to secure the most effective system of preference, such duties 
-should not be imposed until they have been submitted to the people 



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THE FINAL YEARS 355 

of this country at a general election.' To this ' change of method ' 
Mr. Bonar Law, although with reluctance, agreed. Mr. Austen Cham- 
berlain, on the other hand, frankly refused to share the responsibility 
for such a decision. It really meant a return to the double election 
devised by Mr. Balfour in 1904. On that occasion the plan was modi- 
fied in deference to the views of Mr. Chamberlain. Now, the memorial 
in favour of it was signed by nearly all the Unionist members. Mr. 
Joseph Chamberlain gave no public sign of resentment. On the con- 
trary, in a letter to the Duke of Westminster from the Villa Victoria, 
Cannes, dated February 21, 1913, with reference to a fund for the 
Imperial Reform Campaign, he wrote : ' There is nothing in what 
has recently occurred to make it impossible for us to continue our pro- 
paganda on the same lines.' Still he maintained his own views. ' I 
have not,' he wrote to a friend on May 30, * changed my own opinions 
in any way, and though a portion of our policy has been postponed, I 
am confident that it will ultimately be found essential to that complete 
imperial union for which we have so long laboured.' 

While the fluctuating cause of Tariff Reform thus gave trouble to 
Unionists, the Liberals proceeded with their own bold reforms. In 
the session of 1911, in which the veto of the Lords was limited, pay- 
ment of members, advocated by Mr. Chamberlain in his Radical days, 
but opposed by his Conservative friends, was provided for by the 
Government with the sanction of the House of Commons, and a social 
policy such as the author of the imauthorized Liberal programme of 
1885 might have been proud to promote was developed in Mr. Lloyd 
George's scheme of national insurance, which the Conservatives praised 
in principle and denounced in detail. Then came in 1912-14 the 
renewal of old controversies in which he had been conspicuous. In the 
new struggle on a Home Rule Bill the famous fighter was sorely missed. 
And how he himself must have envied the active combatants as he 
sat in his invalid chair, with his head resting on his hand, brooding 
over the past with its thrill and glory ! 

All that domestic affection could do was done for the invalid, and 
in his old age, as Lady Dorothy Nevill * noted in a visit, he foimd a 
source of pleasure and amusement in his grandson, ' dear little Joe.' 
His family shared his interests and aims, and aided him with devotion. 
Mr. Neville Chamberlain in a speech in West Birmingham made a 
touching reference to him. ' My father,' he said, ' has had many 
trials in the course of what is now a long life. He has had domestic 
sorrows, he has had political disappointments, he has had to suffer 
the frustration of his ambitions and the loss of friends ; and now in 
his closing years he is suffering under a disability which is. perhaps, 
more painful to him than to most men, because all his life he has been 
^ Under Fiv$ Reigns, Lady Dorothy NeviU. 



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356 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

a man of the greatest mental activity ; but his immense courage and 
his extraordinary patience have enabled him to go through all his 
trials — ^not excepting the last one — ^with an equal mind and in good 
spirits.' 

A waiter at the refreshment room at Calais said to Mr. Neville 
Chamberlain, after seeing his father on his way to Cannes in 1913 : 
' Sir, he doesn't change, and although he comes back every year a 
year older, still he seems to be the same man.' Writing from Cannes 
to the British Weekly in the spring of that year. Sir WiUiam Robertson 
NicoU noted that there was little change in his appearance, though 
perhaps he looked a trifle older. He spent most of his time in the 
large and beautiful groimds attached to the Villa Victoria. Sometimes 
he took walks in the sun on the Boulevard du Midi, and was seen at 
other times in a bath chair or driving in his carriage. His return in 
the summer of 1913 was delayed by the serious illness of Mrs. Cham- 
berlain. When he arrived at Charing Cross he appeared to be able to 
move his limbs with less labour than in some former years. A small 
group of spectators standing near his carriage, as he entered 
it, a passenger inquired, * Who is that ? ' ' That's Joey,' replied 
a porter. The old familiar name adhered. 

At last, on January 7, 1914. the newspapers contained the announce- 
ment, made by Mr. Chamberlain in letters to the Presidents of the 
Liberal Unionist and Conservative Associations for West Birmingham, 
that he did not intend to offer himself for re-election. ' I have not/ 
he said, * come to this decision without many regrets at the severance 
of a connexion which has already lasted for over thirty-seven years, 
and has been marked on the part of my constituents by an ever- 
growing confidence and support ; but I cannot hope again to do my 
work in Parliament, and I feel that our city and the constituency need 
the services of a yoimger man who will take an active part in the Par- 
liamentary struggle and help you to maintain the supremacy of the 
Unionist cause in Birmingham.' Although the intimation caused 
little surprise and the blow was softened by the assurance that Mr. 
Chamberlain's health was not worse, and that his interest in politics 
was undiminished, a note of pathos was struck by the event. Eulogis- 
tic articles appeared in the Unionist press, and sjmipathetic, truly 
appreciative references were made also by Liberal and Labour news- 
papers. While the former dwelt largely on his Imperialism, the latter 
acknowledged his services to social reform. There was a touching 
sound of sorrow in the resolution of the Executive of the West Birming- 
ham Liberal Unionist Association, recording the ' coming severance 
of public and personal ties which for so many years have boimd us 
together in affectionate relationship.' 

Death came, mercifully perhaps, before the retirement could take 



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THE FINAL YEARS 357 

effect, and when it came it was unexpected. Mr. Chamberlain spent 
the early months of 1914 as usual at Cannes, and on his 
retimi in May, although he looked thinner and more bent than in 
former years, it was stated that his health had improved. Fellow 
passengers at Charing Cross watched sympathetically while he was 
assisted to his horse-drawn brougham. He made his first public 
appearance since his illness — and, as it proved, the last — ^at a garden 
party given to the Unionists of his own constituency and of his son's 
in the grounds of Highbury on June 6. Seated in a bath chair, and 
seeming to be in good spirits, he put out his hand to old political friends 
and raised his hat in acknowledgment of bursts of cheers from delighted 
people. ' I wish we had you with us now,' said men who had followed 
him in fight, whereupon he smiled and shook his head. 

The next news was of his death, which occurred in London on July 
2. People were startled by the intimation of the event. There had 
been no report of a relapse, and it was not generally known that Mr. 
Chamberlain had come back from Birmingham to London. The final 
illness was short. On Monday, June 29, he * kept me for an hour,' his 
son, Mr. Austen, stated, ' while he told me his whole mind on the situa- 
tion in Ireland.' On Tuesday he was taken ill. Next day he stayed 
in bed, and at 10.15 on the evening of Thursday, in the presence of 
his family, he passed peacefully away. The news, published on the 
following forenoon, excited profound emotion, not only in Great 
Britain, but throughout the empire. Messages of regret from all over 
the world were received, foreign countries as well as British showing 
their consciousness that a great man had gone. Telegrams to Mr. 
Austen Chamberlain included several from the royal family. The 
King wired an expression of heartfelt sorrow, adding, * I deeply regret 
the loss of one for whom I had the greatest admiration and respect,' 
and subsequently His Majesty sent a letter of condolence in his own 
handwriting. Queen Alexandra telegraphed direct to Mrs. Chamber- 
lain, and her secretary conveyed her very sincere sympathy to Mr. 
Austen on the death of ' such a distinguished father, one of the greatest 
men this Empire has ever known.' 

An Abbey funeral for the statesman was offered to his family, but 
in compliance with his wishes he was buried among his own people in 
the simplest manner. At an hourof Simday when comparatively few 
people were astir his body was conveyed from Prince's Gardens to 
Paddington on the way to Birmingham. There, as he passed from 
the railway station to Highbury, his fellow-citizens lining the route 
stood with imcovered heads and sorrowing faces. Next day, Monday, 
July 6, he was buried in Key Hill Cemetery. A service of the utmost 
simplicity was conducted at the Church of the Messiah, while simul- 
taneously a memorial service was held at St. Margaret's, Westminster, 



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358 JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

which was attended by political friends and opponents, by men con- 
spicuous in various walks of life, by foreign diplomatists and by re- 
presentatives of the colonies. Mr. Chamberlain's last journey from 
his home to the Church of the Messiah and thence to the cemetery 
was watched by crowds of people, but only the family circle stood at 
the graveside, when he was laid to rest beside his first and second wives 
and not far from his father. In that circle besides the widow were three 
daughters and two sons of the statesman, and his only surviving 
brother, Mr. Walter Chamberlain. For no man was there deeper 
mourning by a family. 

Tributes to Mr. Chamberlain's memory were paid in both Houses of 
Parliament by the leaders of the Liberal and the Unionist parties. 
Specially fine was that from Mr. Asquith, who testified that 'in 
that striking personality, vivid, masterful, resolute, tenacious, 
there were no blurred or nebulous outlines, there were no relaxed 
fibres, there were no moods of doubt and hesitation, there were no 
pauses of lethargy or fear.' Mr. Balfour, who supplemented Mr. 
Bonar Law's tribute from his own wider experience, described Mr. 
Chamberlain as * a great statesman, a great friend, a great orator, a 
great man.' Although he had never been leader of the House of 
Conunons, nor head of a Government, the House in which he had played 
a foremost part, doing him an exceptional honour, adjourned its 
sitting in his memory. That same evening the House of Lords gave 
the second reading to a bill based on the assumption that Home Rule 
was to become law. 



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XLVI 
A SUGGESTED EPITAPH 

THE epitaph prepared for Mr. Chamberlain by Lord Rosebery 
was that ' in a political career of thirty years he split up both 
the great political parties of the State/ It was a career unequalled in 
destructiveness, although surpassed in constructiveness by men of 
immeasurably smaller talents. Mr. Chamberlain's most notable 
achievement in the arena of home politics was his surprising and 
successful fight against Home Rule. To his energy, his ingenuity, 
his oratory, and his influence the defeat of Mr. Gladstone's Irish 
schemes was in a large measure due. The greatest affair with which 
he was directly associated as a minister of the Crown was the Boer War. 
His share in that chapter of history on which the mark of blood is- 
left has been accounted to him for fame by one set of critics and by 
another set for dishonour. ' He has left a united South Africa under 
the Union Jack,' said Sir Conan Doyle, the novelist, who classed him- 
with Chatham and Pitt among the great empire builders, while Radicals 
on the other hand found the results of his policy in taxes and graves 
and broken hearts. As Secretary of State he assisted the movement of 
the time for the drawing of the colonies closer to the mother country 
in sjmipathy. There may have been exaggeration in Mr. Balfour's- 
statement, in 1900, that ' it was during his term of ofl&ce that the 
British Empire as a whole first showed its full and corporate conscious- 
ness of what it was and what its destinies were,' but even the Radicals- 
admitted the happy effects of his administration in promoting an 
imperial sense of unity and a common glow of patriotism, and the 
people of the dominions themselves were grateful to him for his interest 
and zeal. His memory may be preserved across the seas longer even 
than at home, for several towns in the dominions have been named 
after him. Unfortunately it was as a wrecker that Mr. Chamberlain 
closed his official career. In renouncing his earlier fiscal beliefs he 
unsettled the minds of a great mass of his feUow-coimtrymen and 
drew down the Unionist party. He hoped to reconstruct it, but dis- 
abling illness came upon him without his having convinced the 

359 



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36o JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

United Kingdom that a safe system could be raised on the new founda- 
tions which he devised. 

No bill of the first magnitude was ever carried by Mr. Chamberlain. 
The historian may find that he was an inspirer rather than a performer. 
He sowed the seed, and others reaped the harvest. One who knew 
him intimately described him as a great artificer of programmes 
and Mr. Gladstone jeered at him as a prolific parent of schemes. 
He was one of the most ardent advocates of free education, which 
the Conservatives provided while he was their ally but not their 
colleague. With his encouragement, too, they set up coimty councils 
and gave facilities, inadequate although these were, for allotments and 
small holdings. There is no doubt also that he prepared the country for 
'Old age pensions. He brought the question of pensions into current 
politics and yet he left to his opponents the honour of providing them. 
While he looked into the promised land, Mr. Asquith and Mr. Uoyd 
George led the old folk into it. The most important bills which he 
personally piloted were those for bankruptcy reform while he was a 
Liberal, and for compensation for accidents when he became a Unionist. 
Many of his aspirations were unrealized. Neither the Church, nor the 
land, nor the school system in respect of sectarianism was freed by 
Mr. Chamberlain, and the power of the House of Lords was, in the 
-end, checked against his will. 

' I have an ambition,' he said in early life ; ' my ambition is to leave 
the world a little better than I found it.' In some respects this high 
aim was fulfilled. No doubt, like Adam Smith on his death bed, Mr. 
Chamberlain could have said, 'I meant to have done more.' But 
he did much. He assisted to improve the lot of the poor and he 
stimulated poUtical parties to promote social reform. What ill he 
may have done by reopening the fiscal question, and letting Protection 
loose, remains to be seen by those who come after him. 

Which — ^it may be asked — ^was the real Mr. Chamberlain, the Mr. 
Chamberlain who preached Ransom, or the Mr. Chamberlain who said, 
' You must put a tax on food ' ? Were they both real men ? Was the 
■old completely changed into the new, with a fresh set of convictions ? 
The complexity of the strangest career of our time cannot be made 
plain and simple by contemporaries. They are puzzled by the earnest- 
ness with wWch he spoke on both sides of many great questions. 
Other statesmen have changed their opinions and their parties, but none 
so surprisingly and daringly as Mr. Chamberlain. The secret of his 
<:areer lies, perhaps, in George Meredith's words, ' He has been thought- 
lessly called a renegade,' wrote the novelist in 1906. ' He is merely the 
man of a tremendous energy acting upon one idea. Formerly it was 
the Radical and free trade, now it is the Tory and protectionist idea ; 
and he is quite in earnest, altogether at the mercy of the idea animat- 



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A SUGGESTED EPITAPH 361 

ing him.' It may be said of him, as Professor Dowden has said of 
King Richard III, that his central characteristic was ' the necessity of 
releasing and letting loose upon the world the force within him, the 
necessity of deploying before himself and others the terrible resources 
of his will/ 

' Now in his ashes honour.' 



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CHAMBERLAINIANA 
A COLLECTION OF SUPPLEMENTARY DETAILS 



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BOOKS AND PAMPHLETS ON MR. CHAMBERLAIN 

1882 
' Remarks on Mr. Chamberlain's Bankruptcy Bill, etc/ H. Gotobed. 

1883 
' Defeat and Retreat. Three Years' Blunders.' Letters from Joseph 
to William. (An imaginary attack by Mr. Chamberlain on Mr. 
Gladstone for his ' grand old mannishness.') Pp. 48. 

1884 

'Mr. Daniel Creedy, M.P.' An Extravaganza (intended to satirize 
Mr. Chamberlain). Pp. 40. 

* The L